Blog 122 – A Whole Pregnancy Without Drinking

It’s been nine months today since the last day I got on the piss. The last time I took out my anger on another person. The last time I almost completely lost control.

The last occasion I drank was at a party of mutual friends. My ex-girlfriend was there and the combination was enough to deflate my self-esteem.

Needless to say at the time I was completely out of control of my actions and took it out with violence by kicking holes into walls, punching dents into people’s vehicles, basically being a complete and utter jackass.

Later that same night my ex-girlfriend gave me a call asking me to come spend the night. Being the hopeless romantic I happily obliged and ten minutes later… well that’s none of your business…

That night I asked her to go out with me again. But this time I made the promise that I wouldn’t drink. That was probably the most intelligent decision I made that night and let me explain to you why.

 

 

My biological family had a history of generational domestic violence. I had a history of going off the rails when on the drink too. So for me, it made a lot of sense that alcohol played some part in that story.

It became more obvious over the few times I had lost control that there were patterns that could very well have been responsible for my actions. It was important for me to learn that alcohol was never the reason why I was so aggressive when drunk but actually I was just really emotional in general. Alcohol just brought that side out of me.

So learning to detach myself from the misery of the jail cells, to save my previous relationships, it was a smart move for me to simply give up on the beersies altogether.

So heck yes I’m proud of that. Not drinking has had a massive impact on my outlook on a few things. It has saved me an unknown amount of dollars across the year. My flatmates used to decorate our wall unit with the bottles of previous night woes. Seeing those bottles always reminded me of the huge investment I was saving by not buying a $30 bottle of Smirnoff Vodka every couple of weeks or so.

The other thing not drinking has changed is getting my relationships back. I’ve proved to those closest to me that I’m learning from the mistakes that I’ve made. They feel more comfortable knowing that I’m not going to go overboard and it has alleviated significant anxieties of those who lived with me.

The last biggest thing that has changed for me is that I’ve learnt to respect my own limits more. See the idea was never to completely abolish drinking but instead, it was to learn to have an appreciation for not needing too. If I was feeling slightly anxious before a party, which was always, the smartest thing to do was not drink. By taking proper measures to prevent certain disgrace was the most powerful management skill I’ve gained from my period of abstention.

 

 

It also goes beyond me. Not drinking over this period emits a certain kind of presence which actually inspires other people to follow in my footsteps. The maturity of respecting limits, and when not necessary, encouraging my mates not to drink either.

This way we all saved something! We all saved money, we all saved friendships and the coolest thing is that we all grew together! To feel proud of the growth that we didn’t need to drink anything. To feel a mutual respect for being the last ones standing by the end of the party and also being completely fine the next without any hangover.

By no means was I the only one in this! Some of my closest mates had never drunk at all.  Another concept that was rare and is impressive at the same time. But this means that socializing together at parties, in restaurants, or just chilling can be a sobering affair.

Every time I said no to being offered a drink, my chest was held high in the respect of knowing that a year ago my answer would have been yes. Saving a few bucks on an RTD was such a humbling experience like somebody recognised your potential or some shit…

But now It’s completely out of the question and I’m extremely proud of that.

Thanks for checking in!

 

Blog 120 – Appreciate The Invisible Things 

During the valedictory speeches or when accepting an award, it’s custom generally to say the words…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’d like to thank my mum and dad for this.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But why do we attribute so much kaha, or so much strength into emphasizing the importance of our oldies?

Well, I think with all things growing up, you tend to go with what everyone is saying. The quick and easy way out of public speaking, the road to avoidance. But there is a side to us that takes those words with a grain of salt. There is a part of us that I believe takes that seriously, and in today’s short talk I’d love to unravel why that might be.

As a young guy still with close relations with my parents, I have learnt that it’s not easier to be in their position. Growing up you always take for granted the role your parents play. It’s only really once you start working and forging your own life that you get a real clear scope on just how hard it must be to be a mum or a day. Not to mention all the other shit that goes on in our communities.

When I was a baby I was taken away from my biological parents and put into the care of my step parents. So right off the bat, there’s an extra special connection between my step parents and me around an understanding of my whakapapa, or where I’ve come from and who I have to thank for being here, and also apparently how cute I was as a baby.

Now, this Whanau took me into their care when I was 8 months old. They weren’t financially rich at the time and had two children, my big bro and older sister, to look after and teach. So right from the onset there’s a real sense of closeness and belonging that must have been really hard to manage.

Then after reaching my school years, I developed an eye allergy which basically meant that my eyes are permanently bloodshot, and id be spending my entire childhood and teenage years visiting eye specialists and consistently medicating. So that must have been a pretty shit thing for mum and dad to realize.

 

 

 

 

Going to school it became clearer that I was really interested in maths and English, and basically all of academia in general. So there must have been a point when my parents must have decided that they were going to have to set up an account for me, just in case I decided to go to University. So that’s another really massive step to take. Not many young people have that privilege or opportunity in the first place.

Then when I reached the age of twelve, I was old enough to consent to become a Whangai adopted child to my step parents. At this time there was pretty much no question as to whether or not I’d be sticking around for the long term. My parents had stuck to their commitment to look after and love me and I in return loved them as my parents, so this process was beneficial for everybody.

Coming into my first year of intermediate school was when my brother passed away. Which was a huge scare for my whole family and community. A long time passed before any sort of movement happened and it was just shit.

The thing that came from this experience though was that it reminded us of the importance of life, and it sparked a momentum with my parents. Mum, in particular, was the one who grew from that experience the most though. To really base her entire life on supporting her kids. Myself and my sister.

Those relationships took a really long time to come back and start flourishing again. Because there are no answers to grief, loss, and tragedy so close to home. Those memories are still upsetting to deal with but what’s worth celebrating is the tremendous effort and determination it took for my family to bounce back.

As a young person, I was aware of all of the things that were going on at that time. However, because I didn’t fully understand the hardship and difficulty of building a family, I didn’t truly know the heartbreak my parents must have endured. I didn’t actually appreciate how much that must have dampened their spirits.

So there’s a lot of stuff there basically is what I’m saying. There is a whole range of huge invisible miracles my parents have performed in my life which I’m slowly learning to appreciate. It’s really humbling to be able to unpack some of what they have done for me because what it does do is actually articulate the meaning behind the words.

 

 

 

 

Just learning to appreciate the many invisible favors our parents have done for us can really help us get a scope on what value the favors other people do for us actually have. If you can’t appreciate the small things people do for you then it’s almost like you’re not really deserving of getting anything.

It goes beyond manners in the sense that if you can’t say thank you for something small that somebody does for you like take your rubbish to the bin. Even if that person is doing their job, they might be having a really hard time. So it’s really important to always be mindful of appreciating the little things people do. Another reason to appreciate those things is that actually everybody has a choice, and that person is choosing to help you.

But then that works the other way too. When you do things for other people, what you’re doing is paying it forward. It shows that you care enough to go out of your way and pick up somebodies wallet that they’ve dropped, or given the lady at the bus stop the extra $1 to get on the bus, to give a homeless guy some food because he needed it more than you did.

That’s true appreciation. It doesn’t just come from nowhere. Somebody has to step up to the occasion and offer you a hand. Raise you up as a child. Pay your medical bills. Put a roof over your head. These things don’t happen naturally they’re decided by somebody. The real way to appreciate something somebody has done for you is not necessarily shouting it out on your rooftops to your neighbors but actually, sometimes it takes just being a straight up GC. But it starts by just appreciating the invisible things.

Thanks for checking in.

 

 

 

Blog 119 – Love Your Sisters

I’m proud of my little sister. She has become a massive part of my family this year. From barely knowing her older brother to being totally immersed in the weirdness that is my whanau.

Younger siblings are funny ones. They resist and they push back both in words and with shotgunning the front seat. Us older sibling counterparts are left wondering “how the heck did I get told off for that, all I did was change the TV channel?”

Since I was a little baby I was always the youngest in my family. Growing up in the foster care of my aunty, then my only fully biological little sister was born. My aunt made sure to keep us both in contact every few years or so. A strange relationship for any person to have with their sibling.

There were years between catch ups. So long that it became convenient for me to feel comfortable in my own family believing I was the youngest one. My step parents had two children, both of whom were much older than me. They babied me all the way through my childhood years. I was a loved and spoilt youngster who enjoyed running around sprinklers in the nude.

But there was a realism I didn’t know back then. A truth that underpinned my life that I wasn’t aware of. I had a younger sister who didn’t live with me and I didn’t know why? Our biological parents were not fit to be parents. They weren’t ready to take on the guardianship of two young tamariki. They were not the kaitiaki we needed. Their decisions were why my sister and I were taken into the care system.

 

 

 

In 2016 I made a phone call to Child Youth and Family to find out where my sister was. It took a number of weeks to get in contact with her social worker but eventually, I made it through. After making disparate connections to my sister’s Foster Carer, I learnt that she was living on a farm in the middle of the North Island. It brought me huge comfort knowing she was living in a safe and understanding home.

Towards Christmas, my sister finally came and spent a holiday with our family and after numerous discussions, the decision was made that she would finally come and live with us permanently and would continue studying in our community.

It’s been almost a year since the day she came to live with us. That day was beautiful. To hear my parents coming together to support my younger sister to come and be apart of our family. That there were no judgements to be made about her past but instead that they would make that commitment out of love and understanding.

It’s pretty heavy stuff to hold in your heart. That pure admiration for the strength and coordination of not-perfect parents making the ultimate decision to take on a life for now and forever… something not many people will probably ever do…

 

 

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My little sister is thriving. For sure she has days of tantrums and arguments, fighting over the TV remote but in all seriousness, she is thriving the way a rose flower blooms its petals as the radiation dances in the sunlight.

It’s weird that she has the same face as me. No, not just in the physical sense but she thinks in ways that I do. The thing I love about her so much is the way she tests the waters. She’s not afraid to challenge me or dad and is happy to say things how they are.

Her thoughts and feelings resonate to the way I felt growing up at 16 years old. Those really grouchy afternoons coming home after school tired and hungry and being confronted by an equally grouchy dad who loves to delegate chores and micromanage your progress… Oh yes… Memory lane…

But she surprises me in so many ways I never even thought of. Always being able to find something interesting to do and hardly ever getting bored. Excelling in her sports and has far better hand-eye coordination than I ever will. Already she is a better driver than I am, and she has a tremendous capacity to love others too.

One of those people she loves deeply is my older sister. My relationship with my older sister when I was younger was very strong. She would drop me off and pick me up from school, those sisterly roles. She would encourage me to do as I wanted and not get too bogged down in doing what pleased my parents.

My older sister is very independent, or co-dependent. Newly married the bro Paul. Together they live in their new home with a cute little puppy named Brick. A pretty awesome little whanau.

Joey spent the longer part of ten years finding her soulmate. She shifted cities, and countries to be with Paul. Built an entire family overseas before coming back home. At this time was some of the most progressive developmental periods of my whole life as a teenager.

We were very close when I was younger and we are still close now. But like all compromises lost connections are just another part of life. We all have to do what is best for us and we all need to love somebody. I’m just glad that our sister decided to move back home so that we can spend a whole heap of time together bow and into the future.

The greatest part about having my little sister come into my life was to hear that the connection between my older sister and younger sister was so strong. Neither of them knew each other very well beforehand but now it’s like they have known each other forever. I imagine it has something to do with my older sister continuing the familiarity of our relationship with my younger sister…

 

 

 

 

Both of my amazing sisters have taught me to put down my personality a bit. With older siblings, there’s always a card that can be played and it’s called the unsourced wisdom card. A lesson to love that no matter how big you may think you are, or how right you may believe to be, there’s no point arguing with your elders on some things.

Conversely with younger siblings, learning how to play the wisdom can be a great way to help mentor them. How to teach my younger sister the right life skills. It’s also taught me that being the older one has perks. I’ve learnt how to delegate responsibilities like asking her to do the dishes or overruling her call to shotgun the front seat in the car or which channel is to be played on the TV.

The most powerful thing about learning to love and understand my siblings had been learning how to have people skills. To adapt to new personalities. Whether big or small things for either my younger or older sister.

To learn how to ask for her to turn down shit music in the car. How to ask where the pots go after going over for dinner at my older sisters place. Laughing with her at the latest viral video on Youtube. Trying to explain to her what my new job is all about. The difference is that I have a deeper invested interest in my sisters because I love them and it shapes the person I have become the same way it shapes other families.

 

 

 

Having these relationships builds people skills too in a way that allows for personal development. it forces you to grow and adapt to the new landscapes, the new personalities. When my little sister challenges my request to change the channel it is a micro level argument of power dynamics and a clashing of minds.

In that space, somebody will have to make a compromise, or both, The resistance promotes a creative response, something witty to say that lightens the mood, or conversely something controversial to stamp down some authority. This is politics played out on a really small scale.

The relationships we develop with our family is the practice ground for real-world politics, whether it’s in our family, with our friends or out in our communities. I’m sure most families have their occasional domestic every now and again. One uncle disagreeing with another uncle business…

We all hear the Trump stories on a macro scale too. The compelling ridiculousness of an orange-faced man banning people from entering his country. Or a Zimbabwean President refusing to step down from power. These are examples of poorly executed community focused politics played out on a massive scale.

Power hungry individuals willing to bet it all on losing their credibility in order to maintain their status, their wealth. However, something important to remember is that sometimes it’s better to just listen instead of trying to be right all the time… Another lesson I’m still actually grappling with… Without learning the lessons of these giants builds a personality that is in many ways a deployable characteristic. It makes you replaceable because anyone can be a dick. It takes a special person who understands how people are to create roles for themselves that are indispensable.

 

 

 

 

Which.brings me to my last point that the most powerful thing to come out of relationships is love and understanding. This stuff is like Google Maps when it comes to navigating the ever-changing world of people skills and communicating. It gives us a scope on collaborating with our sisters instead of competing with them. Like taking the dog for a walk or protecting one another from hazards on the road when out driving.

A healthy sense of love and understanding grows our personalities when we know we are supported by each other. We build our confidence and learn the thin line to arrogance. Like making mistakes playing the piano, even if we are good, there are still insecurities if we fumble and can’t finish playing the song. So we stay humble to the end.

At a deeper level, showing love and understanding for your family and friends will help you become more empathetic. In that space, you can take wisdom into any situation. Whether it’s a family argument or a relationship meltdown. Having empathy for a situation shows that you care about other people, which opens pathways in places that don’t exist for people who don’t care or have the right people skills.

Having good people skills and a solid understanding of empathy towards others backed up by a lifestyle full of love and understanding ultimately makes you more employable. How often do you see in a job description phrases like: “must have good people skills” or listening skills, or is a good team player, “must be proficient at communicating.”

These are essential skills for any employment role even beyond getting a job or creating partnerships with other organisations. It builds friends with people, invites you to become apart of the larger family, our communities.

In my opinion, all this stuff can be learnt through appreciating every relationship you have. For me, those relationships include loving my sisters. (And our dog Boxer…)

But at the end of the day, the most powerful use of love and understanding is not to just make yourself more employable for others but to also help you love who you are too, and that skill cannot be overlooked.

Thanks for checking in!

 
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Blog 117 – Be Cuddly

From their furry feather coats to their loud obnoxious snouts, pets can have a huge effect on our lives. From chewing our shoes to sleeping in our beds, the impact they can have on us can so easily be overlooked.

 

This conversation is a little bit cuddlier than the rest. Time to rewind back to the days when things were looking pretty grim. Those cold depressing afternoons, weathers packed in, heading home from school… but what do pets actually do for us on those days?

My dog’s name is Boxer. He’s a bullmastiff crossed with Labrador, so basically a bit thick. He’s fudge colored and has tanned golden fur from paw to noggin. He’s just turned nine years old, which is getting to retirement age, and he is still as grumpy now as he was the first day I met him at three months into the world.

 

One afternoon my mum and I were traveling home from a trip up to the north island. Dad phoned in and said there was a surprise waiting for us once we got home. As it was close to Christmas time, I just assumed it would be a Christmas tree, probably stolen from some farmers backyard but instead I was surprised by this 20kg flee bag…

 

At the time I was just a depressed little brown boy, about 5-foot-tall, coming into my teenage years still very confused about life. I had an anxiety about other kids, especially the popular ones. But that is school during puberty I suppose… A whole lot of popular kids and a lot more not popular kids.

 

I was one of those unpopular ones… The weirdo in the corner. My best friend was Boxer. As lame as it sounds dogs can be your best friend. We lived in a neighborhood without closed fences, an area where theft was non-existent. Asides from the occasional garden gnome or solar light…

 

But like all things in our neighborhood, there were no boundaries. Our dog just wandered about and did what he pleased. Every day when I came home from school he would be sitting in the sun, minding his own business. His head resting on paws. Softly waiting for the next time he’d be fed.

 

After each day at school, I would taunt him to play. He loved to bite back then, to chase after and tease me with my shoes in his mouth. His turds would and still do cover the entirety of our lawns, so it was always best not to venture out barefooted. His farts reek of something unearthly, his breath stinks worse than death, and the consistent musk from his general presence is enough to muzzle friendly visitors. He was still my best friend though. There was something about Boxer that made him so important in my life.

 

When there were earthquakes in our town, he was the first to let us know. When our sister came home with her new husband from the UK, he was there to lick their faces. When grandad spilled his beer on the deck, Boxer was the first at the scene to perform floor suck. When I came home crying one afternoon because the person I asked to go out with me said no, he was there with me in all the tears. And when our family struggled through the loss of our brother, he was sitting in his kennel waiting for someone to come and pat him to sleep.

 

Our dog has powers beyond words and playing fetch. Powers in the form of love and understanding. When the words “food for the dog” or “time to go for a walk” are muttered from any area of the house, Boxer comes bushy tailed. Or conversely when you ask him to go outside or to sit on his mat, for some reason he doesn’t hear you. Selective hearing me thinks…

 

There’s a side of us our pets are professionals at bringing out. A side of us that longs for cuddles, that loves to pat smooth fluffy things, that intrigues us about our animals. They know who we are, they’re aware of our mannerisms, how we treat other people, can sense when we are unhappy and can sense if we are easily led on to feeding them.

 

It’s important to build those relationships with animals because they can teach us how to build relationships with other people. The power of just being there for someone without saying anything when they are going through a tough time. To be loyal to our friends because we know there are consequences for dogging the boys. Or to join in when our friends are celebrating birthdays and eat up all the leftovers!

 

People often take for granted the relationships we have with other people and that is played out on a smaller and smellier scale with our pets. It’s not “just a dog” it’s not “just a friend” the same way our parents aren’t “just other people” and our mates are not “just Dave.”

 

Growing up took me a long time. It took a long time to find out who I was as a person. My experiences and support networks are some of the biggest reasons I am the way I am today. Which is by no means perfect. Nobody is perfect. Nobody has all the answers. But the point of doing life is that we’re all figuring this stuff out together. This lesson is about learning to appreciate our cuddlier whanau. And the power of being cuddly too. 🙂

 

Thanks for checking in!

 

Blog 116 – Start Giving A Shit.

We all have those days when we can’t be bothered. Can’t be bothered working, can’t be bothered conversating, just can’t be stuffed. Long days at work, university or after a family reunion. The day’s when we’re absolutely exhausted mentally with the endless questions about how things are going, what we are doing with our lives and listening to other people.

We have all drifted out of a conversation with someone we’ve just met and ended up wondering why in the world we were talking about Donald Trump or something random. We have to also admit that it’s not always because of tiredness that we stopped paying attention but sometimes we as people just stopped listening because we stopped caring so much. But what is the price of not caring?

For a second, imagine what life would be like if you stopped giving a shit about everything? Sounds pretty good right? But what opportunities would you miss out on if you went through every conversation half-assed and vacant? If you overheard a conversation about something you could have offered your advice on but didn’t because “you couldn’t be bothered.” How would your friends and family treat you if you didn’t give a shit about them? What would be the overriding effect if everyone didn’t care, how would that impact our world?

 

Actually caring about things can be as simple as being present in a conversation, participating in something we don’t usually care about. Something I’m completely guilty of is always thinking I know what is best for myself and like many things I’m often wrong.  I like to think that everything I currently believe in has always been that way but every now and again these little journeys pop up which change my opinion on things and it actually shapes what could be considered a different version of who i am, maybe like yearly iPhone upgrades, very slight changes which accumulate into significant and very sizeable changes. Being present in conversation is about as important as having lyrics in a song. It provides depth, it grows a sense of involvement, something other people can relate too.

Over the last two years, i’ve been on this journey of self-discovery. Through blogging and cycling, advocating for young people in state care, not being sure about what I want to study, considering what Christianity means to me. Having difficulty with relationships. A whole mixture of massive journeys.

All of these journeys have taught me more about myself and others, in particular, how my experience in the care system has changed my worldview. My adoptive parents fostered other kids because they clung on to something deeper than biology and sharing the same blood. They would make compromises in their own lives be it financial, social or even allow their cupboards to be raided whenever I came over willingly because they valued connection beyond just saying that they cared, they followed through with their word and actioned change into other peoples lives. Those lessons wore off on me. Moulded my persona and helped me appreciate other people. The same way a musician is influenced about what to sing, it sets the tone for everything they do.

 

When I was 16, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) sent out a request to all care experienced young people between the ages of 16-30 if they would like to be a part of an advisory panel that would report to the Minister for Social Development. With some convincing from my mum, I unwittingly emailed back letting them know I was keen.

With all of the right words in the correct locations, my request was denied… Lol… At the time I was still sitting my NCEA’s in high school and my passion was to get into graphical design and become an architect, so it didn’t affect me very much.

Not until one day I received an email from the same lady at the OCC who asked whether I would be interested in taking part in a focus group with a whole group of other care experienced young people living in Christchurch. The bribe was pizza and fizzy. Like all kids as soon as the words free and food are dropped, the rest of the conversation kind of doesn’t matter.

So I walked into this meeting thinking I’d be catching up with a whole lot of heaving hitting, inspirational leaders. But instead, I was confronted by a group of kids who had less than I did. These people had tattoos on their face, gang affiliations, some had even been to prison. These were people who needed a voice but didn’t believe it was even possible, they didn’t feel like they were entitled to it.

Our facilitator at the time, a lady called Tania (who is absolutely amazing), spent time with us asking what we thought would be helpful for young kids in care provided that we had all come through the system at different stages in our lives. A lot of thoughts were drawn up around knowing their rights, being able to have more freedom voicing their thoughts on things, there were so many thoughts. The entire mindmap ended up being scribbled over the entire 5 x 2-meter wall, floor to roof.

The conversations grew louder and louder, not in a nice way either. Stories were being shared about the abuse that some people went through, the horrible stories which I never believed could possibly happen in New Zealand. Sitting around the room in a messy circle each person shared their story and what they’d gone through. As each person told a bit about themselves I realized a continuous pattern that I was the only young person in that room who hadn’t been physically or sexually abused by someone.

 

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It made me upset and pissed off. It was enough to make me question the morals of our culture. That there are people out there who do this shit to kids and leave visible scars and seem to believe that it is okay somehow. How domestic violence is such a real and living issue within New Zealand and while it didn’t affect me in my life, there are many people to whom it does affect.

This was the first step in changing my opinion around others. From there I was asked a second time to be a youth advocate, and still being salty about the first time, yes was the answer. Three years on and a new Ministry has been created and its name is Oranga Tamariki – The Ministry for Children. An overhaul of the attitude behind how New Zealand view’s the problem of young people living in poverty.

Since that day I have spoken at large conferences, with Prime Ministers and academics. I have helped at a governance level to create and raise funds for a charity organization called VOYCE-Whakarongo Mai, which stands for the voices of young care experienced, that specializes in giving young kids in care a collective voice. There are thousands of people involved in this work not just in the care experienced space but in every element of our communities. All of whom have huge roles to play.

Do you think that these services would exist if nobody cared?

What would happen if nobody could be bothered? Would these important social enterprises still operate today? Services like: The United Nations Foundation, The Rotary Foundation, Heart Foundation, Starship Foundation, Tearfund, World Vision, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, these services would not exist if people didn’t care.

It’s easy to believe that it’s somebody else’s problem and therefore somebody else will fix it. That was exactly my thinking when I was 16 years old about the care system. The thing was, I always knew that there were social problems in New Zealand. From the “It’s Not Ok” ads on TV, even to completely different initiatives like World Visions 40 hour famine. But the truth is that I never really realized how much of an impact my seemingly insignificant opinions could actually have on everything, from policies which turned into laws to changing the minds of my friends and just opening their minds up to the reality of the problem.

The fact of the matter is that change doesn’t happen if everyone waits for somebody else to fix the problem. The same way the dishes won’t get done if everyone waits for somebody else to do it. It takes leadership to get anything done. Somebody has to start a movement to encourage others to be inspired to do the same.

New Zealand’s care system has been changed 14 times over the last 20 years. It was only until this time around when some bright spark thought of the idea to actually ask young people who lived through the care system what they thought about it. I know right… Seems like a logical thing to do, ask children what they would like the Ministry for Children to look like. Can’t believe it took 20 years to figure that one out…

But that’s actually a common thing, nobody seems to remember that almost everything we like to call our world was designed by someone, built using somebodies hands and handed on to another generation.

Sometimes the most obvious solutions to things aren’t actually as obvious to other people as you think. Our worldviews are all different. We all have something different to offer to people. But it is everyone’s responsibility to give a shit, and that can start by simply paying attention to the difficult conversations we all ought to be having with other people.

 

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 114 – From An Outsiders Perspective

It’s always interesting meeting new friends and getting to know who they are. Those first few months of spinning yarns and slowly earning each other’s trust. Learning to see what their strengths and weaknesses are from an outsider’s perspective. Those awesome occasions once you’ve heard all their stories and share memories with them and you’re put into a position where they finally trust you enough to bring you into their home.

Call it the chapter when you introduce all of the side characters, your friend’s parents or partner, their cousins or relatives, and friends. Even the decorations around their home and the general vibe speaks novels about a person and why they are who they are. Everything that you weren’t told seems to come out after the first few times you visit a person’s home. Like opening a sandwich you bought from the bakery. It’s contents become more obvious over time.

Now it’s not to say that you could just waltz into somebodies home and figure out every nasty thought they’d ever had, although you could just read the labelling on the shelf before you became invested in the sandwich. But it means you get to see some of a person’s primary characteristics being overlaid inside the place they grew up in, inclusive of the other people they live with.

This happens to me from time to time. From friend’s whose parents are armed defenders squad soldiers to newly wedded families with a new cat. Booming business-owning families all the way to stoners with nothing better to do than drive doughnuts in their backyard to piss off their neighbours. But for the sake of this talk, I want to reflect on one particular friend whose family taught me that you can survive primarily on love. That you can survive on the warmth generated by love as if to say that same sandwich only needed one ingredient.

When I was a depressed little teenager, my family shifted cities. We moved into this neighbourhood called Cashmere in this earthquake-prone city called Christchurch. Now little did I know that being socially awkward and noticeably anxious in a school full of shaken up teens makes it really really difficult to make new mates. It would be more productive to try to make fruit bread by toasting an apple.

Long story short I eventually made a group of mates. It took them a while to realize that I was just a massive softy. The kind of bum who likes cups of tea next to an indoor water feature with a brioche bun filled with avocado and bacon probably with a yummy homemade chutney on a laid back Thursdays 3pm.

It took some time for them to adopt me as a new prospect but somehow they found a way to let me fit in. Surely enough the majority of whom I still talk to today. All of those guys have grown up with me over the last five years from being dramatic and highly reliant teenagers to becoming less dramatic independent adults.

One of my best mates was introduced to me through this group. In how all fashionably classy friendships are made, through bitching about other people we both mutually disliked. The consistent and exaggerated moaning about people we both knew and both despised. An extremely fruitful way to spend hours of cackling with another person, I would recommend.

From then on, my mate and I continued to find the funny in everything. Whether it be about a teacher’s mannerisms all the way to the problems with brands like Beats by Dre. There was a consistency there which eventuated in our friendship. A friendship strong enough to earn his trust and be invited over.

The first time I went around to my mate’s place all I remember hearing was, “mum, Mana’s here.” Like a drill sergeant announcing a captain being on deck. Like an outfit, I went into full mum-mode by putting on my innocent until proven trustworthy face.  Through the fly door screen, all I heard was a homely voice saying, “hi Mana I’m (Bob’s) mum.” Followed by a prompt to come inside and not to worry about my shoes.

Dragon’s, rock/metal band posters, ashtrays, and love. That’s all my eyes could see in those first few steps into my mate’s place. They weren’t unshaken. Their family wasn’t perfect. Like many good people, shit happens and you learn to adapt to the situation, get thicker skin, deal with things over time. My friends mum worked hard. Day in and day out both at work and in their home. In the beginning that’s all I saw, just a hard-working, no bullshit New Zealand family. From an external view, a cold and solid livelihood, period.

Meeting my friends family was during a rock bottom period for me. Weighed to the ground by my anxieties, having issues with acceptance of who I was and problems with relationship breakups. The usual teenaged angst type of stuff. A period of time that you really just need help from other people.

When things go tits up, especially as a teenager, it can be really difficult to explain why it happened to parents who don’t really know who you are. Sometimes all you need is to talk to people who you’ve not previously had very much to do with. Sometimes what you need is a second family to kind of induct you into their world.

Family dynamics can become extremely solidified especially when you’ve never known much different. In my case, there had been so much clinging going on, by which I mean it became a case of never wanting to detach from my parents or learn about how others lived. I was so worried about how others might perceive me, Scared of the hammer coming down afraid of their judgment. A cold and stark reality that others only see things from an outsiders perspective.

Meeting other people has this cool feature that gains insight into understanding how other peoples family dynamics can educate unforeseen circumstances kind of like a chef teaching how to cook your favourite dish but better by adding a special ingredient, being more time appropriate or applying some other logic. It’s really as simple as studying others but we should learn about the secret sauce for now. Getting to learn about what lies within the solid centre, or within the breaded sandwich. Trying to understand how my friends family worked was about as powerful as taking cooking lessons.


 

After some time of appreciating who the people my friend and his family were, eventually you see what’s inside the cold centred middle. Behind the hard-working parenting, the passive bitching between sister and brother. Beyond the no-bullshit typicality of my friend’s kiwi family. It took some time to learn that this was how their family loved each other. A transcendent and loving conversation without words like heat within a freshly minced pie.

Love and acceptance was the currency my friends family traded in. A secret sauce that other people couldn’t corrupt. It was as if they didn’t give a shit about how other people lived and that was so refreshing from a younger and far more insecure little me.

Passively learning about all of their signs from the arguing they always did to the subtle giggling afterwards all the way to the endless talking about Game of Thrones or squabbling about somebody else they didn’t like. The thing that got to me was that my friend’s family didn’t have all the things other families did.

They didn’t have all of the belongings, the fancy cars or illustrious achievements hung up on the walls of their house paraded for everyone to see. They didn’t have an array of university qualifications or even a dominant male figure walking about the house. Their home wasn’t decorated with fancy artwork, instead, there was an occasional ACDC rock band poster resting next to their dining room table.

My point is their home wasn’t rich or even slightly well off. There were no high incomes or even two parents. Instead, there was only a hard-working mother and hard-working, loving not-so-young kids.

His family endured through many shakes that I never dealt with. Literally. During 2010, 2011 and beyond there were severe earthquakes that struck the Christchurch region. Imagine growing up in a place your entire life and having the majority of its terrain, it’s infrastructure being broken and uplifted. The disgruntled unfamiliarity of your livelihood, and yes it sounds dramatic but remember when so little else besides love gels your whole life together, how much would earthquakes unsettle your home life?

 

 

Another non-physical language next to love my friends family used was music. It helped to push through the hardships of suffering thousands of earthquakes. One of my memories staying over was listening to the Rock Fm playing late into the night. I thought I’d switch off the radio but was promptly told to put it back on. Not in a police officer kind of way but like mum telling you to eat your food before it goes cold.

Music was a security. It reminded them that they were safe inside of the chords. An empowering force, something that they liked. It let them forget about the shaking, it gave them a sense of stillness. It reminded me of all the times I used music to ease the stress of a situation.

There are endless external sources which could break families apart. Economic, financial, socio-political, earthquakes, you name it. But nothing hardens a family together more or strengthens relationships like an incorruptible love, spoken or not. My mates family taught me everything about staying strong. They even taught me a lot about my friend and why he came off so staunch and concrete.

It was because it takes time and a lot of hard work to earn some peoples trust. Not because they’re unsociable but because that is how they have grown up. With a solid centre. Though from an external position it might seem like they don’t care but in reality, it’s quite literally the opposite. My friends family didn’t have all the privileges but they still had more than the richest or most powerful.

Instead of cars and material belongings, they had relationships. Instead of talking about TED talks we spoke about memories together. It taught me that not every family needed all of the salads or the fanciest meats in their sandwich but instead they could get by using their special ingredient, love.

Be more open to loving discussions. Not necessarily with the next person you meet but instead becoming a source of warmth for those closest to you. My friends family taught me to guard my heart. Not to become invested in external sources like fixating on frivolous spending but instead to be grateful for what I have.

They remind me how we all need to love our family. That we could lose everything in life from our employment to our loved ones. But at the end of the day, as long as you have love as your glue and a mean tune on the radio, nothing can break up your family. And on that note…

Thanks for checking in!

 

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Blog 111 – Be Humble

Pull your head in. You’re being an asshole. Don’t be so smug. You’re so up yourself. It’s all about you. You’re so power hungry. Stop trying to control other people. The list goes on… Being humble is a process of learning and today’s lesson is all about recalling my past and the place’s I’ve come from. The seasonality and how I’ve grown to see myself and others in a different light. So much is going on in my life! With so much happening and a tremendous amount of opportunities popping up, it can be so easy to get caught in the hype of it all. So that is why this reflection is all about getting back to my roots and remembering to whom I have to be grateful for.

Kowhai flowers prevail on a gloomy overcast spring day, Rotorua.
Kowhai flowers.

Like a Kowhai tree growing yellow in spring. We grow comfortable with the new season, new clothes, with social network exposure, we can live off the reputation that we are doing quite well for ourselves. Well, at least that’s where I’m at. It was never my life goal to be any more than just me, I love being just Mana.

In the last few months so very much has happened for me. I was awarded the civic youth award by my district Mayor, had lunch with the Prime Minister of my country, I spoke in front of hundreds of people, some including Ministers and judges, cycled the length of the North Island of New Zealand and raised thousands of dollars for an organisation that I am now a board trustee of. But before all of this was I somehow a different person?

When I was 14-years-old I was depressed, it was my longest winter. I remember things being grim and I remember my family being split apart after our brother passed away. Our whole family struggled to communicate our feelings for one another, no shit.

My father was a man brought up in a rural New Zealand town called Waimate in a white family not very well off with parents who lived through the depression of the 1930’s. He was born in the baby-booming society, raised in a preconceived environment that believed sexuality and race were either phases or inferiorities. He grew up in a New Zealand that believed in the “harden the fuck up” approach, where men couldn’t communicate their emotions openly, yeah you get where I’m coming from.

He worked very hard to be as understanding as he could be though. He loved all of his kids equally and loved our mum most of all. He had a fairly good idea of who I was and what I was interested in. It was not until after the fact that I became his only son to succeed him that he became a bit more expectant of me to become something.

Not by way of becoming the next Prime Minister but more of an everyday typical New Zealand bloke kind of thing, somebody he could relate to in a way that was convenient for him. To play rugby for the local Moutere club, to sit at the pub while the All Blacks beat France. To get a decent job and start up a family with a wife. But that’s not me. I’m no good at rugby and I never was. Really shit at the damn game and cricket too. Any ball sports, which in New Zealand is essentially all of them, I was better off with my head in the sky looking at the birds. Then there was the relationship stuff…

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As a tree, it’s difficult to grow up straight if the people you look up to cast a looming shadow. Ohhhhh, deeeeeep you say. For sure, there is a depth to this little story but when we talk about depression it’s never surface level stuff. In my last blog, we talked about the different kinds of love, the hard kinds and the soft kinds. We identified that fathers and mothers breathe a different kind of love for their kids and for me that was the case. My mum was more accepting of me because she loved me softly whilst my dad was a hardass about doing the chores around the house, not having a job and me not living up to the conventions his parents expected of him. Tough love.

A father who has high expectations that his youngest son will grow to become a man of great strength. When a boy is growing up and is seen as anything less than straight or “conventional” then he is seen as judge-worthy. Especially in this microclimate world of New Zealand where everybody knows everybody who knows somebody that heard about somebody else. You could argue that perhaps I shouldn’t have cared about what others thought of me but we always care about what others think of us and we always care about what we think of ourselves. The cause of my depression I’m pretty sure was down to my own self-doubt that I wouldn’t amount to what my dad expected of me because he didn’t accept me for the person I was growing up to become. He couldn’t communicate how he was feeling and I wasn’t brave enough to challenge that. So nothing changed.

Most people won’t even see the dominant male culture for what it is in this country. Guy’s need to express how they are to know how to communicate how proud they are of their children because if they don’t then the cultural attitude will only ever continue. Our harden up culture has had a huge impact on my relationship with my dad and I’m sure I’m not the only one experiencing this.

After moving down to Christchurch I kind of found myself even more isolated. I’d spent ages trying to establish this small community of mates in Blenheim and to be dropped in the ocean was a real burden for some time. This was as low as I ever got into questioning myself. Wondering if maybe I was bisexual, maybe I was useless at all sports and that maybe my ways of meeting other people were forever disconnected because I was the “weird” kid. The one who didn’t conform, the one who didn’t fit into many boxes, the one other kids couldn’t place. Yes, I am brown. Yes, I have red eyes. Yes, my parents could afford to dress me well and yes other kids judged me because of those things. But to hate myself because I didn’t have the full acceptance of my whole family was the biggest judgement of all.

 

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Then one day I stumbled into this game of dodgeball at school with these dudes I’d never met before. Some of whom were pretty quiet to start off with, others not quiet enough. Turns out I was pretty good at running and I was pretty good at dodging passed all of their tackles and I also really enjoyed playing their games.

Long story short they were the best friends I ever had. Some of which I still talk to nearly every day. I didn’t care what their backgrounds were, I didn’t care about what colour their hair was or what job their parents worked as, I didn’t care about what race they were it didn’t matter to me. I was just so fucking grateful that some amazing people had stumbled across me during a sunny Tuesday lunch break on the top field at school because when you’re isolated in your own head the slightest bit of light changes your life.

 

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I got to meet their families, I got to be apart of their lives. In some cases, ruin their parties with my drunkenness and apologising for my mistakes in jail pretty shortly after. But it all seemed to work out for me and it was because they accepted me and it all came down to a beautiful moment of being humble in the pure fact that they didn’t care what my background was either, they just knew me as Mana and I am forever grateful for that.

They gave me the sticks to grow taller. Much taller. It’s like toughing out the first month of winter and then growing a skin for the cold. Coming to grips with who I was as an individual without the direct relationship of an understanding but a biased father. Getting around those curve balls with the help and advice of friends I’d made playing a game of dodgeball. Winter was slowly lifting for me, and it continued to do so for years after that. So much so that I am now where I am today. In spring.

Coming out of the muck of depression and learning that acceptance doesn’t just come from having amazing parents but it also comes from learning to be humble and opening yourself up to things you’d never thought you’d be good at like dodgeball and stumbling across an amazing group of people you learn to call friends. A community of lads and ladies, all of whom you can still share great banter with.

There is so much I have to be grateful for. It is so easy to get bogged down by all the bull shit, all the nonsense all of the social-political drama especially your own self-image but for me, the only things that glue me together are the many friendships I’ve been so lucky to build and the trust and unwavering acceptance they provide which gives me strength. That it’s not about me being power-hungry so much as it is just another part of me simply just growing up.

 

Thanks again for checking in.

 

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Blog 110 – FAMILY & LOVE | What Do They Mean To Me?

Blog 110 – Audio

 

The contents of this one are very personal. 

When somebody tells you that the most important thing in the world is family what do you think they really mean? Is the term “family” a blanket word for the community of people you build relationships with or is it the group of people who you share biology with? 

What is family to me?

I can tell you what family isn’t. When I was eight months old, I was taken into care by an amazing whanau who loved and nurtured me but what is also significant is recognizing the relationship I had with my biological parents in that small period of time that I had with them. My reason for being taken away from my parents was because they were unable to care for me. They were unable to create and maintain a safe and loving environment for me to grow up in. Instead, my dad was unable to father me and my mum was unable to mother me. For the respect of their humanity, we will leave it at that for now.

I was told of a time when I reached the age of around five years old, my biological parents used to come over for dinner and I was allowed to spend nights at their place. They were able to build some kind of a bond I guess. That was until they decided to do the magical vanishing act again and leave without making any concerted effort of telling anyone where they had gone. My adoptive mum, who is also my biological aunty, told me that when I was five, just after my parents left, I would wait at our dining room window peeking through the curtains down to where our driveway was, looking and waiting for my parents to come for dinner. Supposedly this behaviour continued for a number of weeks until one day we decided to go visit my parents at their house. When we arrived their house was empty and their furniture had been uplifted. Obviously they weren’t coming back… lol…  Since I was five the number of times I’ve seen either of my parents is countable on one hand. A family should never put a young person through that. This is not family to me.

Now don’t get me wrong this isn’t a read for you to start feeling sorry for me. What I’m getting at is there aren’t many things a young person should have to find out. Young people should not have to find out that they weren’t being cared for adequately by their biological parents, not being fed enough food, and young people should never have to find out that they were rejected. Because, as we all know, rejection is a bit of a bitch to deal with especially when you grow up into those teenage years, even in adulthood. I know everyone is capable of feeling some form of rejection but for me, it has had a tremendous impact on the person I am today. Within relationships, within workplace environments, at University, in school, around my flatmates, my mental health is adversely impacted by rejection and the need to feel adequate every day, it’s a pattern of behaviour and it takes time to realize the continuity and hard work to break the cycle.

Family to me were the people who raised me and continued to build on that relationship. They were always the people who solidified my foundation stones. Who chiselled my personality and ingrained it into the being I am today. The many times they taught me to shut up when I was being spoilt and to be strong when others needed me to be. They taught me what love is, not my biological family. Our family grew into this sprawling network of incredible people and the growth is still dynamic.

 

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What is love to me?

Tough love can seem harsh but in reality is often the softest kind. This was the kind of love my dad and my brother used. My oldest brother and my mum used to be the instructors for the Redwoodtown Taekwondo club in Blenheim, New Zealand. He was over fifteen years older than me. His goal was to train young people how to protect themselves by teaching them Taekwondo and to be like Batman. To teach people not only how to protect themselves in a fight but to also be a mentor for others. The objective was to learn to create peace, not how to train to be the best in the world or how to look cool in front of school kids in the playground. Learning Taekwondo wasn’t all about earning rank or feeling better than anyone else, it was about building a family within the community.

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My brother taught me how to protect myself using Taekwondo. For almost six of my ten years he was my instructor. Hell-bent on kicking his students’ forearms with his iron-poll-like shins. Slapping us with his palms square in the back if we weren’t running fast enough or punching hard enough. He would also discipline the highest ranking black belts when they used their rank against anyone with a lower rank. A fair system.

One time in class he yelled at me for not punching hard enough. Being the cry baby I was I turned on the tears. The first time this happened my big bro stopped being a drill sergeant, gave me a big hug and let me cool off at the back of the class, at this point I was like 7 years old… The second, third and maybe fourth times I cried in class he became less and less lenient about cuddles and instead adopted the harden up approach. This was my introduction to tough love.

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Outside of training, my brother was a pretty chill guy. He would pick me up in his red Nissan Skyline after every school day at 3:10pm. Never late but sometimes early. We’d go grab a sausage roll from the dairy on the way back to his flat and my payment was doing the dishes or vacuuming the lounge. There was a real fairness about him that held fast our relationship as brothers. A tough love approach that was actually the fairest kind.

 

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Soft love is often the more accepting and understanding kind. My mum and sister are the types of people who breathe this kind of love for their family. However, mum is a Maori lady who grew up understanding more about kaupapa or Tikanga, which is the study of Maori social customs, than most people ever will. A skill that not many people have any understanding of anymore.

 

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In western culture, we grow up used to fenced properties, three of four aunties, two of which we’ve hardly met. More Christmas presents under the tree than members of our family. We sometimes grow up thinking that wealth comes through the weight of a person’s wallet and the number of qualifications down a person’s shirt. The biggest difference is that the love is often static. More often than not the tough love approach is applied without the balance of positive enforcement. No role models who will take your side even when you’ve “underachieved”. Love is only ever felt when something is lost and is always trumped by the parental expectation that you become a success. Like every day is a competition.

Whereas in the Maori world, wealth is defined less by what job you’re working and more by how much love is in your family and the fulfilment of each relationship. An invisible force called Mana that can’t be bought and isn’t corruptible. Where every brown person in your neighbourhood is probably your second or third cousin. When you have more aunties and uncles than fingers and toes like every day is a pōwhiri. A much more communal vibe. Two fundamentally different cultures.

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In our family, our mum resonates elements of both. It enables her to retain boundaries to protect our family but also allows the loving community-first mentality. Mum and dad used to run a family home for other young people who were taken away from their families. Recently worked as the Children’s Team Director for the Marlborough region. She’s a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo, which is still my senior (second degree [what a loser!]). Mum has a PhD and a whole raft of other degrees. She was once a justice of the peace but relinquished the role to be a marriage celebrant which she still currently is. A superwoman basically…

Mums are always usually super loving sometimes in a suffocating way. My mum told me about the first time she ever saw me with my biological mum she described me as unhealthily underweight and severely undernourished. After going through the reporting procedures and notifying Child Youth and Family (Child Welfare services in New Zealand), she eventually moved mountains and gained guardianship over me!

So what’s the first thing that mum did? She fed me food. Lots and lots of food. So much food that I got chubby. Suffocating love, the accentuated kind, the type that lets you be yourself a little bit more. Like a load-bearing pillar that dampens all of the excess weight that has built up from the tough love dealt out by fathers and brothers sometimes… My favourite kind of love actually…

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Family and love.

To me, family is the closest group of people who make huge dynamic contributions to building a stronger relationship with me. Others might say those are people who are “rallies” or family-friends. In my eyes, sharing biology means you hold the keys to the house, you have the biggest right to hold the prestige but without on-going support, it doesn’t make you the pillars which hold up the structure. The contribution and hard work are what amount to love. Tough love, soft love, in-between or both, that preference is up to you. Love can teach you how to protect yourself, how to teach others, how to protect your family, how to uplift a community, to confide in oneself and teach you how to unhinge the many battles we face every day within our own faith, against rejection and to be a better person overall. That is the meaning of love and family to me.

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 108 – Addicted to Being Busy

I sometimes think that people are genuinely just being busy for the fact that they enjoy being busy. The consistent type the ones that like to fill their schedule with everything other than making meaningful relationships with others.

It’s not just the serial extroverted either, what if somebody told you that everyone is just being busy for the sake of being that way…

I grew up in a home full of busy people. On one hand, you have a mother who has so many degrees at University neither you nor I will ever be as hot as her, and on the other, you have a dad who is soo one stroke that a roast with meat and two veg hits the plate nearly every day of the week.

Everyone in the family, asides from dad and my youngest sister, is military level martial artists, two of which were instructors, all of which are black belts. Where the tenants are:

  • Courtesy
  • Integrity
  • Perseverance
  • Self Control
  • And Indomitable Spirit.

It’s like the life motto in our house is so “go hard or go home” that the “go home” is removed from the saying entirely. The type or persistence that has you running timed runs at 12 years old training for your black belt grading. The type that has you running around in a white uniform that looks like a straight jacket for crazy people in front of kids playing basketball at school on a Saturday afternoon.

Sometimes I look at myself and think “why the heck did I say yes to that?” those moments when you full well know you’ve got something else on but the enjoyment of achieving it drives you to say yes instantaneously.

What? You don’t have those feelings? Not everybody does but maybe it’s the opposite of procrastinating? Maybe it’s a case of needing to achieve in order to feel content with oneself. That some people like myself get off on over achieving and end up doing everything but really achieving nothing. 

But is that any reason to slow down? What’s worse, being overly unproductive or achieving so much that your CV when you reach 50 years old will be longer than the bible…

I am constantly at war with myself, saying shit in my head like “am I trying hard enough” or “what more could I be doing to better equip myself for what comes next.” Perhaps all of those childhood memories of watching my mum vacuuming the top of the wall units in the lounge at 5am on a Sunday morning is what actually brought that stuff up for me.

My latest goal was to start up this new blog, the blog collects the stories of others and displays them into a narrative. Something that people could browse in their spare time. It was specifically started with the intention that it could combat mental health. That a person in need could come across it and utilize some of the tools that other people have talked about that were important for them.

This is still an amazing idea but can’t you see the problem? The holidays are over now, University is back up and running, that project is pretty hefty. On top of this, I also said yes to being on the panel for the William Wallace Awards which sits tomorrow at lunch time. There were 49 candidates, each candidate had anywhere between 4 and 80 pages of reading to go through carefully and respectfully.

Then there’s home life… The list goes on… But what is more important is recognizing the pattern. The mindset that if I don’t feel like I’m achieving enough, then there is a problem.

A capricious cycle of finding solitude in stress-infused silence. The ten-second excitement factor after pushing publish to the latest blog you’re currently reading. The bow on the stage that lasts a fleeting five minutes. Is it passion or is it problem. 

This is not a bragging session about claiming to be an over achiever. This is a confession session so that you don’t feel pressured into working tirelessly to achieve something that doesn’t really matter beyond the paycheck, beyond the certificate, beyond the bravado, beyond the bullshit.

If being busy keeps you happy, then fine, live and let live. But if you’re not achieving authentic relationships that are meaningful, whats the fucking point? Though it’s a bit of a serious reaction to over achieving something.  Sometimes striking a balance can be evidence of exercising the fourth tenant mentioned above, self-control. Learning to be at peace whilst remaining still.

In the words of Jackie Chan,”Being still & doing nothing are two very different things.”

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 107 – A New Blog!

You can visit the new blog here! WHAT WE SEE

So you may or may not know that we’ve recently started a new blog called WHAT WE SEE. It features a whole range of different voices from people within the community and shares a little bit about their stories.

The goal of the blog is to develop a wealth of opinions on topics surrounding mental well-being that we are dealing with in our local communities. Such issues include teen suicide in the state. Vulnerable youths and mental health. Ensuring quality care for care experienced young people and much more.

By constructing this new blog I hope to give the voices of the community, who are invested stakeholders in the well-being of young people throughout New Zealand, a collective vehicle that can be used to help aid those in difficulty. Specifically looking to help young people in New Zealand.

My experience in the state care system has meant that I am able to reflect on the process of the state care system as well as suggest practical ways in which we can all work together to help change the culture in New Zealand. I have been lucky enough to understand the mechanisms behind the ministries and private organizations and bodies that exist to front these social issues.

Perhaps another young person suffering from depression, anxiety or a young person who just needs to hear about a story from another young person or somebody they’ve never met.

The attitude of this new blog WHAT WE SEE is all about drawing from experiences that other people have faced in their lives. That they can give these little taonga back to their community to help somebody we’ve never met, without expecting anything in return. 

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So how could you get involved?

It;s really simple! All you need to do is write in via the contact page or by getting in touch over Facebook and gauging your interest in being part of the collective voice as well as a little bit about your personal background.

From there somebody will get in touch with you quickly as possible and hear a little bit more about your story. You can be super loud! Or you can be anonymous. This is all about sharing your experiences with young people in our community.

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How long’s this been running?

Since August actually… The best thing ever has been thus far getting to hear other peoples stories just flourish and shine on their own without any moderation, without any changing because they are so real.

The blog will continue to remain this real into the future. The goal is to start small and develop a network of people. But the opportunity is to grow so large that the blog becomes its own service.

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If you have any other questions about how you can get involved or if you just want to know more please feel free to email me or leave a comment at the end of the blog!

Thanks for checking in!

You can visit the new blog here! WHAT WE SEE

Blog 106 – Spring to Life

In this discussion, I summarize what the first half of this year’s blogging has been about. What the experience has contained and what lessons have been learned on my part and what ideas are to come.





There are a dozen reasons why I started this blog. At first, it was all about putting tabs on important moments in my life. The blog manifested itself within experiences I went through. Looked at reviewing different places I had seen and been to. Talked about the international community and some of the atrocities being committed against people.

It talked about moments of inhumanity when everything was bad about our world, especially the economy. I hated the economy. The attitude of arbitrary leaders to treat people like dirt, raise the rate of inflation, flat-lined the raising of wages. Create laws to scare people away from misbehaving. They call it freedom but I saw institutional stereotyping/racism/fascism/sexism and general dickheadedness.

Yes… The blog was a ranting platform.

The blog also discussed my personal hobbies and interests like architecture and cycling. It also talked about what it’s like to live in Wellington. The various opportunities I was able to seize like becoming a youth advocate or helping to build a new children’s ministry. Becoming a voice for other young people in a non-governmental agency.

We shared a heck of a lot of memories on the blog. Like moving cities, studying at university, relationship melt downs, going to church, doing a charity bike ride across half the country, flatmate politics.

Then it became more about understanding how I work as an individual. What peeved me off about things I did. What frustrated me about things other people did, how I responded to those negative emotions, how to balance those out with positive reflections.

Then the blog became about what’s real and authentic about people. It became about looking for the balance in actions, the way people were and how I shaped up against them. How others could learn from the examples I could set and vice versa.

it evolved into this forum of self-reflection, a place where I could go and vent about myself, what I wasn’t doing, what I was doing really well. It was almost a celebratory place.

But it’s time to change.


The next step for me is to start focusing more about what other people think. There’s a kind of evolutionary thing about starting with one blog and moving into two. Like a tree in some ways, I guess. The idea is to start getting more people into the flow of building their blog alongside this one. TO encourage others to participate in the conversations.

WHAT WE SEE is the new outlet for other people to share what they feel about various topics. The focus is to be drawn on what makes people tick. The focus will be on character building and what people think is important to them and their freedom. What they know from their experience is important to them and could never be unhinged by anything that happens in their life.

This space needs to be used to help people re-motivate themselves and reconnect with their sense of belonging or Turangawaewae. To establish their foundation and find their roots again, be a bit more centered. The beauty about asking people what they find most important is knowing that no one answer is ever going to be the same.

The beauty of WHAT WE SEE is that it is a community space that I hope will develop over spring to become this blossoming embodiment of commune and respect.Over the next three months, I will be trialing this product to see how it can manifest itself best within other peoples time frames as well as building relationships with others.

The blog is only a vehicle. The blog is only the vehicle on which messages can be delivered to other people. It’s like a tree bearing fruit. But the fruit is not for the tree (Because since when does a tree eat an apple). The fruit is for other people to enjoy and read. To take away it’s wisdom and knowledge to empower others to do the same and to be inspired to create change where possible.

It’s all a bit deep. But why is the blog changing? 

The point in the changing of seasons is to respect that we have been through a season. Like everything when seasons change we need to adapt and create new opportunities. Time to shed some fur and begin to evolve into something else that is more relevant.

The blog is adapting by changing up a gear. Removing some of the temporary stilts used to keep the tree growing upwards instead of outwards. But now it’s time to start growing upwards without the confines of being stuck in my own space writing about my own life and it’s time to start sharing the microphone.

I would like the blog to start talking about important issues in New Zealand that so many people face every day. That we could create a narrative to help other people in our community in need of advice, with personal stories that we are willing to share.

What would I like to talk about? 

The first thing I want to focus on is introducing the community. A quick way to do this is by asking some big questions like, “What is the most important thing in your life on one page.” Other questions might be,” What are three things in life that you are extremely grateful for.” By asking a series of questions we can introduce the people who are writing in. By doing so we are introducing a community of people.

I would like to talk about teen suicide in New Zealand and I would like to highlight mental health in New Zealand also. It would mean a lot to me if the blog would grow into this forest of trees where everyone is given space to grow and develop their own sense of identity and freedom. By sharing their opinions on these matters would in many ways grow the tree into this unbreakable structure that would encourage others to speak up as well.

The blog would also focus on positive things in our community that people are doing. This to balance the bad weather and acknowledging that we accept there have been many struggles through the coolness of winter but now that we have changed seasons we can begin to grow in the warmth of society and offer support to others who haven’t made it through the storm unscathed.

How are we going to do this? 

I want to start growing larger than imaginable. I want the blog to start to draw strength from the community it already lives in. It’s no longer about me and my snobby opinions but it’s about you, yes you.

It’s going to take a lot of people to be loud and consistent. I am so excited to see this too. So if you are out there, and you do want to be involved, then BE INVOLVED. Get in touch, send me an email: manawilliams@ymail.com (Ymail = Yahoo Mail). Get connected through various social media platforms, just do. Don’t even think about leaving this sloppy discussion without checking in, you’ve already got this far so you may as well!

It’s going to take a small army of people to keep this alive but I’m praying for it to stand up and be lifted high. So I ask you wherever you are, to be apart of this cool moment, and be apart of it!

AMAZING


Once again, we reach a new chapter in the blog and I’m glad to announce that I will continue to blog every now and again, probably just to rant about something. But there is lots of work that we need to get involved with to try and help the vulnerable young people in our country. We need to be the voice in the dark that steps in and says you’re not alone. We need to be the ones to grow community so that they know they can be nurtured from the fruit we produce for them to sustain them.

Expecting nothing in return.

Thanks for checking in! I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Blog 105 – What Happened To The Blog? Questions & Answers

You could say there have been a few gaps in the progression of the blog over the past few months. The reason for this being that I have found it increasingly difficult to discuss certain topics without having other peoples inputs in them to create a narrative.

A narrative being something to agree on and to work towards finding a common understanding. Over the course of my first hundred blogs, i found that the ideas were more self-reflective rather than worldly informative. It was really challenging for me to try and understand where other people were coming from being the majority of the discussions were about me and nobody else.

To put things into perspective, the blogs were kind of exclusive and inwards facing. It was all about projecting my opinions out there and having people silently reading without having the opportunity to strike up a conversation. While I feel the opportunity for people to comment was always available, I feel as though people felt too left out.

By leaving people out it made them feel less inclined to continue to follow on the talks and actually take anything away from them. The lessons were really insightful, and I admit that in writing some of these blogs I genuinely learned something from them. It will be interesting in a few years to look back on the blog and see how my opinion has altered.

So What’s Changed? 


  • WHAT WE SEE – Other peoples stories
  • Re-branding – A new look


Since writing this blog you’ve probably noticed that there are now a few more options to choose from. There are now other blogs that people have written that talks to their story and tell us what is important to them.

A community-based approach is my first focus now. I am trying to build a focus on other people engaging with the content rather than myself. While I’m still the editor and chief of all things blog, I wish the blog to be eventually crowd surfed and community owned.

I also want the blog to be built on experiences, not philosophy. Because there is more ambiguity surrounding philosophy and this isn’t a place to argue and bicker. In essence, I want the blog to be built on knowledge people have first-hand experience in dealing with. Credible sources that people will respect and have the courtesy to read rather than to keyboard assassinate.

The ultimate change has been a layout change. Eventually, i want to one day build my own website from scratch and have it looking beautiful so that it stands for something above a stupid WordPress account.


What is the philosophy behind WHAT WE SEE? 

It’s all about other people having a say on what matters to them. Based on a common question asked of all the participants. The idea is to see what different reactions people come up with. Though it’s just a start, I hope that one day it might grow into something more sophisticated like an online forum where people can easily comment on stuff they like to talk about.


How Can I Be Involved?

You can either message me on Facebook using the link provided under “How Can We Connect?” – “Facebook” and sending me a direct message. Or you can comment on this blog and provide some contact details for me to use to get in touch with you. Alternatively, I would be more than happy to reply to any emails sent my way.


A personal update with me.

It’s been a long time since I humbled myself and let you know how I’m actually getting on. Since my third monthly update and the charity bike ride it’s fair to say that I’ve been a little bit radio silent. With the occasional quick blog here and there.

University life is taking a burden on the blog, and vice versa. It’s increasingly difficult to write about such powerful and deep topics without losing track of whats important like getting assignments handed in or being involved with flat politics.

I hate it when people tell me they’re good. but I guess I’m good. Recently moved out of a relationship with my girlfriend to start healing and being stronger alone. Learning to grow as an individual and characterizing myself a wee bit over the last week.

It’s reaching into examination period, with study pressures shadowing wasted mornings and afternoons spent better sleeping or writing blogs. Perhaps learning how to cook roast duck or teach yourself life skills can be a good excuse not too?

Otherwise, I’m doing well. this new blogging gig is proving to be really exciting for me. Hopefully the next few months will be just as empowering as the first few!

LETS DO THIS!

Thanks for checking in!

 

Blog 104 – If you could write about the most important thing in your life onto one page what would it be about? By Mana.

My answer would probably be about the relationships that i’ve developed over the years of being able to. 

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No this isn’t another mindless romance novelistic three hundred word blurb about my whole life story but instead, the massive change that one relationship has had on my life that I never imagined possible. One relationship in particular with a girl who changed a lot of things of which I will talk about today.

It all started in a church youth group when I was seventeen. This smiley girl who appeared chilled out and relaxed I quickly found to be an extremely stubborn and uniquely competitive character.

Someone who is as competitive as me? No way!!! Anyway fast forward two years, three break ups later and guess what? I’m still in absolute appreciation of the incredible lessons she has taught me.

She has taught me to be honest, or more or less. That lies have their price, often one that I couldn’t usually afford to repay. She taught me that I had massive issues with social rejection. That my mental health is adversely fuelled by the jealousy and anxiety of needing to be accepted.

Maturity to quit drinking knowing that alcohol was only the catalyst but learning to accept that my own faults were to blame and not the drink. Six months later and I am proud to announce that I’m still sober.

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned has been to be more humble. She achieves these amazing things and has overcome some incredible challenges. Has traveled the world to support the most vulnerable children in some of the most impoverished communities in the world. She has inspired less impoverished kids around New Zealand to help a good cause for the less fortunate.

Her achievements have taught me to be more supportive of other people. To get off my horse and help uplift others when they need help. When she has not been so strong or has been going through difficult times. The love I have developed for her has been out of the admiration of her resilience and strength as a beautiful person.

What it comes down to for me is love ultimately. She has taught me how love hurts. She has taught me how it grows and manifests itself in the smallest things in the world like a stupid plush toy, or something enormous like moving cities.

The reason she is the most important person in the world to me is that when people look at the person who I am at the end of the day, they will be able to say that I was a lover, not a competitor. That my connections with her and with my family were real. She has reminded me why my family is so important. Explaining her life and the struggles her mum went through made me understand what family actually stands for.

That they’re not a flailing flagpole in the wind that is just there to symbolize something vague but that they are hard working people who have had to fight every day so that you can have the life you’re living. A mum, a dad, a sister, a brother.

She has reminded me that while I might want to live in my own little world, there is always somebody to be grateful for.

Thank you for sharing this memory with me.

Mana.

If you would like to read about what is most important to other people, click on the link below!

WHAT WE SEE

10403939_629179043842514_2398963458328031306_o.jpg2012 – Christchurch, NZ

Blog 103 – Being A Ministerial Youth Advocate

My role involved being part of a seven-person panel over 15-months. The young people were all care experienced and all had their own stories. A youth panel was requested by the orders of Minister Tolley, Social Development Minister, and set up by The Office of The Children’s Commissioner.

Our name was Te Whanau Aroha or The Love Family, and we all had incredibly valuable insights into what we want to see in a system that looks after and cares for the most vulnerable youth in New Zealand.

You might ask why the adults needed our voices in the first place, and you’d be right to ask that question. But the why is important because it symbolises a huge shift in authority from the adults back to the people who matter the most in that equation and that is the young people.

Like a school kid catching the school bus. Young people in the care system are users of that system and so they occupy its service. Because they are considered as consumers or users of their care system they are effectively the best people to ask about the process. To help uplift and feedback on how the system operates and where it might be overlooked.

That’s why the voices of young people matter. Not because they’re the last resort, kick it down the street,, token. But because they used the system and are the best people to ask how it’s going and if it works or if it could do better.

What It Was Like Talking With A Minister. 

Normally I would say they’re just another person. That they are just another human being a deserve no more respect or effort than a service station worker or a bus driver. While that’s true, talking with Minister Tolley about the changes that need to occur from a tiny group of six people meant that we had a huge responsibility to ensure that she was informed at an educated level.

We would meet for two day periods bi-monthly and talk to all kinds of people from Judges to Policy Analysts to ensure that the people who are working on the ground and had hands on experience drafting policy or speaking with young people in youth justice facilities. It meant that we were informed about how the system was going and that drawing from our own experiences in the system we could then relay that information back to the minister or help the people working in those areas and point out things that could be easily overlooked.

It was a really nerve racking process talking with a lady who was renowned for being stern and to the point. Somebody who took no hostages and was very forthright at telling you how things were. Then to add that she was a politician really made things interesting and trying to convince a politician that some things she was saying you didn’t really agree on was really nerve racking.

One of the things that I wanted to put into the bill was to prioritise that brothers and sisters be kept together when they were taken from their families. That sometimes kids get split up because of gaps in the system. That these mistakes can sometimes go on to affect their lives all the way up until their late teenage years when in some cases, like mine, they’re reunited again.

But she was a lovely lady. She came to be known as Aunty Anne. Not this scary, wicked, power hungry machine that people call her out for being but this really eye’s open, down to earth figure that took on board everything we were saying.

Because of that, I am happy to announce that we were able to influence change onto the new legislation amendment that was designed to look after and protect young people in the care system.

And that’s pretty amazing.

Thanks for checking in.

Blog 101 – EMOTIONS

Somebody told me today that at least 600 young people in New Zealand last year took their own lives. That we have one of the highest rates of teen suicide per capita in the entire world yet we are a country known for its social diversity and positive lifestyles.

I’m here to break it to you that we aren’t doing a very good job at upholding that clean green image. Unfortunately, our country suffers from a culture where it’s still disenfranchising to talk about how you are feeling or what you’re going through.

Where the male culture is subjected to this starving dog mentality that because we are brutes we ought to be shooed outside to independently find a solution to fix our own issues but that’s bullshit.

Coming from a guy with a second degree black belt in Taekwon-Do, a double majoring student and a whole range of other tough sounding character filtering mechanisms I’m proud to admit that I have feelings.

There’s no point in trying to prove to you that I have a credible background in being as tough as nails because I’m not. There have been tougher people before me and there will be tougher guys after me. But what I’m trying to say is that wanting to be humble is something that should be encouraged not discriminated against.

All people should be able to reflect on how they are feeling, especially with guys. Look, lads… I know it’s easy to roast one another about stupid shit like not being able to admit that you genuinely care about one another or how one guy is more emotional than the rest but it’s irrelevant. Being able to connect with people from a guys perspective takes balls,

I miss my ex. It’s never easy alienating yourself from them when you’ve established such strong connections. Even for a dude, like there are clear reasons why guys need girls in their lives and it’s not about sex or about fitting into the social sphere but it’s about having someone you can bounce ideas off and cry about things with.

At the beginning, it was made clear that this chat would be a bit soppy but it’s something that we guys should be happy to talk about. It’s not natural to create a deep and intimate relationship with someone and then separate from that person. Pain and all of that other crap happen after a relationship break-up and I’m here to tell you I’m feeling those vibes every single day now even though it’s been a while.

Don’t hate on another dude because he’s struggling, let him rant about that stuff, it hurts. Humbling oneself takes courage so respect that don’t discriminate against it. There is a problem in little old New Zealand and as much as our government would love to blame the economics it’s more than that, it comes down to the way we normalise social processes, it’s how we deal with depression, anxiety and stress.

If we have no outlet then what do we do? Turn to the bottle? The bong? The cell phone? We should be able to knock on our neighbour’s door and let them know that we aren’t doing okay. There should be a premise for that but more often than not guys don’t get that opportunity.

I’m not saying girls don’t have equal footing in this discriminatory culture we live in because they do. But the statistics show that in particular, it is Maori Male men living in NZ with the highest rate of teen suicide than any other demographic, so there’s clearly an issue here.

Young people need to be able to speak out if the culture is going to change here in New Zealand and it’s clear that this isn’t the case. We should be able to feel proud about being alive and being who we are because we are people with value and were put here for a reason, male or female. Loved or ex-partnered.

Blog 100 – REST

Something that sparked up a bit of conversation between me and my friend Sam this week was the importance of rest and the power of sleep. After walking nearly 50km over three sessions of walking we kind of resorted to talking about well-being and discussed how rest was something athletes do beyond the sport.

Something I learned when I was watching this youtube blogger named Cycling Maven was about this annual bicycle ride they did across Australia called the Indi-Pac. (Indian Pacific wheel race). This race was over 5000km and went from western Australia near Perth across to eastern Australia in Sydney. The ride taking as long as it took the riders to complete it and in some instances actually race it.

Long story short the racers would have to find adequate means of resting each day after riding crazy distances of in some instances up to 550-600km in one day. (Which is ridiculous) Some riders reporting that they would only sleep up to four hours per day and In some cases less and then exercise up to fifteen hours with few breaks in-between. Pure insanity.

The riders spoke about how they would come across significant health issues. One athlete went on to explain one night, during his tour across America, when he slept on the side of the road in a disabled toilet and was woken up by a busting truck driver banging on the door wanting to use the loo. He said that he actually forgot where he was and went into a panic attack.

The real talk is that nobody is immune to rest. But defining rest is what I feel comes down to an art. I’ve spoken about rest in numerous discussions in my blog before. I don’t think that when talking about the necessity of rest we should visualise becoming a grizzly bear retreating into a cave over Wellington’s super cold winter months and do no exercise. But I feel that maybe instead it’s a call from God to actually rest in the faith sense. To be calm and gracious in both exercise and recovery by listening to the body and creating a relationship with ourselves (and God) and having faith that we will wake up fresh and be able to climb any mountain tomorrow.

I apologise if this turned biblical for you quickly. Maybe it’s not your belief personally but I feel that if you trust and have faith in your body and listen to it more you might benefit from having better rest.

In the Christian sense I guess my faith is knowing that there is nothing I can do to deserve the love of God but that the price has been paid already and the only reason I’ve been able to accomplish so much already is because there is some kind of cause that I am working towards. But in rest it means that I am able to be grateful in my recovery and am ready to grow later with God.

Anyway that’s my two cents worth. I hope you can think on that like I have. What rest means for you. It’s ironic that I write about rest now even though I am awake at 11:30pm and am coming up with excuses not to sleep. But here is my opinion on restfulness and what it means to me. Share with me, in the comments, what it means to you because I’d love to know. And as always,

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 099 – Solo Cycle For Children 2017: POST RIDE RECAP

Beyond all the accolades and beyond the amazing support received, let’s quickly reflect on my overall journey and the adventure on this amazing bike ride I have been on this Winter.

Just to recap, during this July I took on the challenge to ride the length of the North Island of New Zealand, roughly 1100km in distance and taking seven days to complete. The ride itself took off from Wellington, headed north through Whanganui, New Plymouth, Hamilton and Auckland. After a days rest and a lovely massage in Auckland I continued along the East coast via Takapuna, Waiwera, The Brynderwyn’s, Whangarei, Kawakawa, and then north through the Mangamuka hill ranges and finally down into Kaitaia.

For many hours along the trip, I found myself reflecting on what I would say here in this post. It was never really clear how to portray the whole seven days and every amazing thing seen along the way and the intense beauty of New Zealand. I couldn’t really wrap things up without giving it the full respect and admiration that it deserves.

So instead I’ll try to anecdotally reflect on what my trip was actually like in one short story…

On day four I biked past a little place called Taupiri on my way to Auckland from Hamilton. As the road became narrower I decided to use the pathway to avoid any close calls next to speeding traffic. I tried to cut through a really sharp and mossy corner but my wheel slid out beneath me causing me to fall to the ground. After having a few sharp ended words, brushing myself off I noticed that there were cars tooting their horns. But they weren’t tooting at me.

Maunga Taupiri. The word Maunga meaning Mountain translated from Te Reo Maori into English. At first, I thought it was really strange that all of these cars were tooting at nothing but then I noticed that there was a cemetery across the road. Only then did I figure that they were acknowledging their loved ones who had passed away and were resting in that cemetery.

I guess the reason I’m telling you this is because it was one of the biggest wake-up calls for me that I can remember. The tightening grip of culture and the strength of the local community was something particularly special and it made me think about how lucky and fortunate I am to not only be able to witness it but to actually be lucky enough to have such an awesome family and have those blessings pass down through whakapapa. That standing on the side of the road, dizzy and dazed by crashing, for five minutes to watch 25-30 cars toot as they went past the cemetery really does go to show how much aroha or love so many people still hold for those who have come before them.

To put it frankly this bike ride was a humbling experience. To learn that so many people still withhold the significance of their ancestors and their loved ones. To understand the incredible support people are willing to give you to push you across that line is truly something special.

I’ll sign off on that note and say an enormous thank you again to everyone who supported this ride. I’m not ruling out another one during summer so definitely keep an eye out for that! But until then…

Thanks for checking in!

​Blog 098 Solo Cycle for Children 2017 – THE JOURNEY

The Journey So Far… 

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, is an independent advocacy service based in New Zealand and is the biggest in the world of its kind dedicated to young people in care. VOYCE is designed to facilitate the voices of care experienced young people and is aimed at inspiring change in the culture of professional thinking to be open minded about the voices of young people.

This is the charity I’m raising funds for because I believe in the kaupapa and I understand the state care system as it was prior to its newly established children’s ministry, The Ministry for Vulnerable Children – Oranga Tamariki.


To contend with the stigma against children in care by providing them with an organisation that projects their voices. 


So thank you for being involved in my bike ride. This is a quick update on everything about the tour and everything that you might be interested in knowing about. We’ll start with:


  • The bike ride

  • The journey

  • What it’s for

  • Why I’m doing it



So… What bike ride?


So when I say long distance bike ride people generally translate that into a motorized bike that uses petrol and revs to 100 kilometers an hour but that’s not the case today. The ride is on my Giant road bike that will be powered by my legs and fuelled by hot mince dairy pies and cheap knock off protein bars. 


So on Monday the 10th of this July I set off from Wellington and ride for 7 days until I ride the length of the North Island of New Zealand (1100km). Obviously I’m not doing it completely alone so I’ll have different support cars driving different segments of the ride the entire time.



The Journey.


The ride sets off from Wellington as aforementioned. This is where I meet up with my first support car driven by a lovely lady named Natasha. The ride then follows the West coast along state highway one and connects through to Whanganui for the night. Bare in mind that if you visit my givealittle page all of the information will be available and regular updates will be posted both for safety and awareness.


The second day will be another long day and will ride through to New Plymouth via Patea, Hawera, Stratford and Inglewood. This is where we play Poi E as we pass through Patea. Once reaching New Plymouth my first support car will head back to Wellington.


The third day will be met with a few challenges. New Plymouth is where I meet my second support crew who will be helmed by my mate Luke. The concerns are the two hilly sections: Mount Messenger and The Awakino gorge. This is where I have signalled it be too dangerous for me to ride because of heavy traffic travelling between the Taranaki district and Hamilton/Auckland. Which means that virtually I’d be starting my ride instead from a place called Piopio. Beyond this I will then ride the remaining 160km until reaching Hamilton. This is where my.second support car will be heading home again.


On the fourth day of Christmas, just kidding. I head off from Hamilton. This will be with the support of my third and final support vehicle driven by my mate Andrew who will be accompanying me for the rest of the trip. After leaving Hamilton I will then wiggle around through Auckland traffic until I reach Penrose/Ellerslie, where I stay for two nights…


Day five will be spent resting and it will also be a cool opportunity for me to catch up with some of the people who work for VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, and have a chance to see their new office space in Mt Eden.


On day six we get back into the daily grind again. Leaving North Shore, Birkenhead and travelling north all the way up the east coast until reaching Whangarei where I will undoubtedly be grumpy, sore and tired. Sorry Andrew.


Day seven is judgement day. I ride from Whangarei bright and early to connect through to Whangaparaoa where there is this massive hill, and I mean massive. This is the hill that I’ll be complaining about for the next few days but I’ll give it everything I’ve got! Beyond the mountain is about 30km of riding before I make it to Kaitaia.


On day eight hopefully me and Andrew will have time just quickly to run to Cape Reinga, which is the North most place in the North Island of New Zealand. This is where I get to pose and pull dabs at the lighthouse with the point in which two oceans meet in the background of my wicked dabbing skills. After dabbing we will then drive back down south to Auckland, I then say goodbye to Andrew and thank him hugely for the enormous support, and then fly back home to Wellington.



What it’s for.


So the ride as I said earlier is to raise funds for the charity advocacy service VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai but its also to raise the awareness of it to all people. I want people to know what VOYCE is so that I can inspire other children in care to speak up and have a say in the current state of the care system. This is the first time we have ever had the voice to tell a minister what to do. This is the first time ever the adult world has to action the voices of care experienced young people. They have asked, we have informed, and now they’re actioning and that is evident in the formation of VOYCE, that is evident in the formation of the youth advisory panel, one of which I am a member of, which advises the minister of social development, Anne Tolley. That is evident in the Bill that is being passed this weekend in parliament which evaluates the legal commitment that the government and all New Zealanders will have to abide by.


So I guess I also answered the why question in there too. I’m doing this because i am care experienced and have experienced what being a youth advocate is like. The reason why I’m raising awareness of VOYCE is so that one day another young person will pick up the slack and bring their expertise into the fray. Ultimately it’s about consistent advocacy and not one brown kid jumping on his bike every year because he wants to make lots of noise (me).


We have to keep being the change. We have to consistently update the culture of the adult world and provide insight into ways in which we can help change things. The “we” in that statement doesn’t necessarily mean just people who’ve come from care experienced backgrounds but it means everyone willing to hold our leaders accountable in a respectful and productive way that ensures that one day every child in care will be speaking up.


So that’s the bike ride. If you want me to know what you think please drop a comment below 


If you want to visit my givealittle page for more ways you can support me you can follow my link below.

www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/cycleforchildren2017


Please keep updated with the ride. There’s gonna be heaps of coverage for this. I’ll make sure to keep you in the loop. Givealittle is the primary source of updates for each leg of the trip. There will be daily updates and a video, once finished, setup to evaluate the ride from my perspective and the possibility for YouTube live updates each day mid ride. 


So thank you for that and as always…

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 096 – Ride On 

So these words are from a late night of both travelling and studying. Studying for what should be my economics examination but wasn’t. This is a short story of the perceived failed lifestyle that so many of us inconsistent students often face. 

You see, there is nothing liberating about studying. Some people just don’t learn shoved behind a desk listening to some guy rant on in the vast distance on the other side of a lecture theater. I know, who would have thought? 

Those people learn in other ways, such as doing and experiencing. They grow their expertise as they do things because it’s relevant to what they’re doing right now. It’s practicable. For a lot of students I know who struggle with the concept of University it’s often down to a lack of confidence. 

I’ve struggled with this too. Hitting my second year of study knowing that my track record shows D grades and A+ grades has helped me realize one thing. It’s not consistency that is as important as is passion for one thing or a few things. 

When I was sat at my desk tonight, all I could remember was being so incredibly fascinated by this bike ride that I’d planned. Not your motorcycle kind either. No, a push bike plan. A plan to cycle half the length of New Zealand across its North Island during the middle of winter to raise funds for kids in care. 

My philosophy is that when it comes down to the line what matters most to people is their satisfaction to life. Not by what credentials they have or what job they could get with their A-grades.

We are moving into the age of deep fried avocado chips and Jacinda Ardern’s. Where every system will be questioned for its familistic value under a more liberal, intelligent and practical democracy. Where children won’t feel isolated in an abusive home because there is someone out there advocating for them. A time when family traditions are pushed aside for non-sexist, relationship building communities of people who widely accept individuals as family. 

A time when a bachelor of commerce won’t be necessary to get a job in selling shirts at K-Mart. A time when a bachelor of business communications wouldn’t be needed to work as a Journalist in Syria but instead let you prove your worth by showing the work you have accomplished. 

I’m talking about higher education becoming less relevant to employment, which I’m sure 90% of students and 100% of their parents want. Is to become employed with a job that provides, or better still, allows that person to buy their first home. Get a nice car, start a family. Erect a white picket fence…

I’m not saying the white picket fence cookie cutter lifestyle trend is bad. I’m saying it’s boring. Where is the life in that? 

My point is that if you want to get the most marginal utility, or satisfaction – something I’ve learnt in economics tonight, you need to make sure you’re doing what you’re passionate about. Good old fashioned, do what makes you happy mantra. Instead of being passionate about university, tonight I chose to arrange my bike ride. Not because I hate my parents for funding my education but because it was something that made me happy. It gives me purpose. 

Excuses Excuses… 

The immediate assumption leople could make is that students come up with every excuse to avoid studying at all costs. But what kind of a student doesn’t avoid studenting? 

I have a close friend who has had difficulty this year trying to find his way through university. Not because he isn’t smart or isn’t capable because in many ways he’s gifted and talented. He has all the right qualities going for him and is genuinely an intelligent guy, like so many students out there. 

He’s not doing very well because the pressure of his parents to achieve great things swallows the pride he gets from doing what he loves. In turn he blames the system for not letting him walk into a job just because he’s gauged interest.

When people ask kids the question what they want to be when they grow up they always expect half of them to be jobs requiring higher education. The thing is that only some of those jobs really “need” an education. The British Navy had unqualified doctors during the world war mending wounded people back to life. Stammering King George VI of England hired an unqualified speech therapist to help him become the first live broadcasting Monarch to The British Empire during a time of war. The therapist was an actor who had experience in the field of speech therapy also during the war. No qualification, no APA referencing expectations.

What I’m getting at here is that not all students should be forced to do well in school. They shouldn’t feel like cogs in a machine because there shouldn’t be pressure to do well in something because it’s probably not going to work out that way, especially if it’s not liberating. 

I think it’s important for everyone to know that liberation is not the American type, but the type who can prioritise family, health and happiness above money, A-grades and white picket fences. 
Obviously, that student who is up late at night pondering whether to organize a bike ride or study for his exam tomorrow is going to pick bike ride. And there will be consequences for that, he probably won’t do very well. Will go onto failing the course and will probably sit it next semester. The consequence is not the time wasted, it’s the money it will cost to repair the damage done. 

The cost will be to resit those papers. 

The cost will be to ask for forgiveness from your parents. 

The cost will be thinking about how hard they had to work for that failed examination. 

It’s a real stress that a lot of students face. 

So there is absolutely a level of accountability from the student to their parents. But there is also a level of support a parent needs to provide that isn’t financial to encourage their child to do the best they can without asking any more from them because they love their child endlessly because that’s what families do and that’s the most important thing. 

I guess when it comes to living you need to be sure you know what you’re passionate about and gravitate to it like water to the Earth. 

Mine is cycling and spinning yarns at six in the morning… 

Blog 095 Flatting

In any living environment, the thing that we value the most is our own space. Space to do whatever we want. To cook, to clean or to listen to loud depressing music eating a sandwich in bum pants. For sure, flat life has it’s up’s and downs but I guess it’s how you mould those situations into opportunities to help define the person you become.

In today’s discussion, we’ll get down and dirty into some of the more honest concerns and situations which have popped up with flatting. As we go we’ll dwell on how these can act as massive learning opportunities.

A little backstory…


So last year I moved to Wellington from Christchurch to study at Victoria University. A few friends of mine headed in the same direction northbound and mostly ended up living in the same halls of residence. Long story short after a long period of knowing each other we ended up coming up with the most random decision ever to flat together, and voila! In the words of Inspector Jacques Clouseau, “you are now up to speed.” 

This year, shifting into a flatting situation together was one of the biggest decisions some of us had made. I didn’t really know what to expect or how any of it would play out. It was one of those, just try it and see how it goes situations. When I first moved in, there was this sort of awkwardness between my flatmates. Having argued with some of my close friends towards the end of the previous year and also being the last person to shift in, everyone sort of already knew what was up and knew how to go about their business.

Heading into the first night I was pretty angsty, thinking about rent, thinking about school and just general nerves in recognising that I was pretty much out there. Now that’s not to say that at any stage things were overwhelming but instead, I would say that flatting with other people would be a challenge for me. A challenge because it meant that I would have to set aside some of my normal traits and grow up quite a lot. It meant that I couldn’t just confront one of my mates because I would be sleeping in the room next to them.

I’m really good with confrontation, but the problem with confrontation is that it affects other people in bigger ways than you’d expect. Someone like me who has little to lose isn’t afraid to argue that the concern is others people don’t necessarily have the same solidarity. To put it nicely, shifting in as a flat has been a happy process but no process has ever occurred without some drama and confrontation.

This was not my first time living away from family. In my last year of highschool, my parents weren’t around so much. Mum worked and lived in another town and Dad commuted in between. Working and studying meant I hardly ever saw Dad when he was around, and so I had gained a lot of independence in spite of that.

I’d be lying if I said that the other people in my flat and in my friend groups had the same level of independence when I first moved in with them two years later. The tricky part about independence that I’ve realised is that when things go wrong and you need the support of your parents, it’s really hard to garner that same support when you’re trying to be self-sufficient.

One of the things that I’ve noticed about my friends is that some of them struggle to give up their stubbornness and ask for help. Especially being in such a busy time in our lives when there’s so much happening with Uni, with growing up etc. The more help you can get the better…

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Social Dynamics:

So to start us off I’ll rant about how the social dynamics of living in a flatting situation is nothing short of balancing four pizzas on two hands whilst running across a rooftop on a rainy day.

We all knew each other to a deeper level than just “friends.” We knew each other’s vibes, we knew where we were coming from and understood each other’s personalities. So coming into this new flat was a lot like going to a school camp. It was like going into a holiday program in the beginning and then ended up turning into a bloody team building exercise. Learning to mesh in situations when you can’t be bothered, learning to accept personality indifferences. Learning to handle other people’s shit and also learning to deal with your own shit is probably the biggest challenge.

With a selection of different personalities all needing their own sets of rules and ways of engagement. There is a huge contrast between person to person. Being aware of the difference made it easier to deal with conflict or otherwise celebrating uniqueness. Creating relationships is an age old thing but when you’re living with someone you really do get to know them. Not much is left to be analysed.

Getting used to the antics, getting along with the banter and enjoying the company of others was the easiest part about moving in with a group of people. It never seemed to be too much of an ask to simply put on the back burner some of the remarks people would leave, because I would dish out some of my own. I’d say the first element of structured living in a flatting situation is to consider the importance of other people’s time schedules and bare in mind that everyone is going through their own stuff.


But it’s when those tough days come about. Those single digit winter-like evenings and there’s no food in your cupboard that test you. When there’s a disturbance after a confrontation between flatmates that interrupts you. When jobs haven’t been done and you’re feeling powerless after your day that it gets to you. The small life stuff that is mostly what growing up is about.

When the stress kicks in and you can’t accommodate for somebody else’s antics which create a fuss. When you don’t have time to put up with someone’s shit that causes ripples in the flat. Nobody likes to confront somebody. When it happens everybody feels victimised. When there’s reason to be upset with someone then there’s usually an illogical explanation to why it happened.

Take milk for example. The most stolen fluid in the world apparently. It doesn’t matter if it’s blue top milk, trim milk, soy milk, almond milk, Up N’ Go milk, it could come straight from the udder itself and it’d still be stolen. Having your milk poured into somebody else’s cup or bowl is bad but it’s also annoying being called out for the theft when it wasn’t you. If your flatmate swears from their room and refuses to ask for something politely after you come home happy at 9 pm on a weekend night. If you’re on cooking duty but there are dishes everywhere. If you want a shower but the floor is disgusting and there’s hair in the plug hole. Trying to keep your cool when somebody says’s something untrue when they’re drinking and you overhear them.

Yeah, there’s a lot of stupid mundane shit that can be annoying when you’re in a flatting situation. It’s open warfare bro. But still, there’s a lot of cool things that can be taken out of it. The weird banter you share with the lads in the middle of the night and receive noise complaints from your neighbours below. When you create weird video montages on a random Friday evening because you were bored and share it on social media. Learning about all the embarrassing shit your flatmates have done at home from their life long friends. The mutual dislike you share about a teacher or a person from your hometown or high school. The appreciation for your neighbours late night singing or music choices. The nicknames you build over stupid acts of idiocy like Shampoo, Cheese and Laundry Powder. When there’s a story about your WiFi address. When every photo on your walls has an important story. The string you use to attach your keys onto to hoist down to people at the door downstairs to let themselves in and the stories behind that. When every bedroom in the flat emanates the characteristics of the person who lives in it. When you name the people in the building across the parking lot that you’ve never spoken to before because their windows align with your bedroom but it’s super creepy that they can see where you sleep. It’s always more important to remember the positive takeaways in these flat situations because at the end of the day it’s all about those relationships and establishing stronger connections, establishing better friendships. Though it can be hard and frustrating, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter because we are all heading in our own directions any who.

A big part of my blogs has been recognising that sometimes you need to show grace when other people and going through hard times. For sure, I understand what tough times can feel like and a lot of the time like last year, you find yourself in predicaments when you really rely on the support that those around you can provide. So in that sense, I do owe it to some of my flatmates. As understanding as they were, I was never far from their support. So coming into the flatting situation this year has been a big wake-up call for me personally.

It can be really sad watching those relationships fall apart, especially when it wasn’t your fault that things went the way they did. One of the biggest learning curves for me was knowing that some people don’t know how to offer themselves any help. But watching your friends sort of plunge into a state of isolation and treat themselves horribly is a shocking thing to have to go through. The old saying, “you can walk a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” never felt more relevant. It’s really sad to watch your friends realise that growing up is really shit. That you can’t control other people and when things aren’t going your way you can’t leverage their support just because you need them too.

Social dynamics are the biggest factor to consider when moving in with other people. Coming to grips with the fact that there’s no way of avoiding the deeper conflictions between your beliefs and their beliefs as well as putting aside your own concerns in order to resolve any confrontation. From my experience, the dynamics of flatting is the biggest thing to consider. It’s something that can be taken way too lightly and can quite easily stress friendships.

Blog 094 QUIT DRINKING 

Today’s discussion is about giving up drinking alcohol. Not your regular alcoholic confession story but better worded as a design direction statement more than anything. The reason I say design direction is because I see myself as a product of a whole lot of successes and mistakes. Not all necessarily all my own fault but I see things as if you can start a habit you can stop a habit. It’s better looking at things from a conceptual standpoint because you can get to know yourself at a structural timeframe level and get to understand where it all went wrong.

So let’s go back a few years and figure all this shit out. Get to know me better and understand where I’m coming from. This conversation is not set up to convince you that I’m a good person. It’s setup so that we can both be better. That you can hopefully feel proud to say “no” everytime somebody else says “yes.” Let’s get to the bottom of this in a big way so that we can both get on with our day.

I was pretty late to the party getting started with the whole drinking thing. Reached the age of sixteen never having had any real interest in the world of alcoholism or ever really finding any value in brown water. My parents reached out to me one day. My dad handed me a double brown and a spoon then said, “if you can open this beer, you can have it.” Being the stupid prideful snob the opportunity seemed too easy to say no to so I smashed it back.

Cracking my first beer was like earning some kind of noteworthy badge or something. Being a teenage kiwi boy from a rural neighborhood, it all seemed like I’d just ran my first marathon or built my first shed, a huge achievement. There was something about it that seemed unnecessarily normal. As if my parents were comfortable with it. Because they were!

I’m not blaming anyone but myself for drinking. My parents have always been conservative and intelligible people. But the concern was that it was socially acceptable and that was a part of the problem. Like when an architect designs a home for a family. A home is supposed to represent the values of that family and it’s crazy to assume that the accumulation of wealth in which the family has created would ever be influenced by external sources but they often are. A home, a place of sanctuary can so easily be affected by social norms that influence what the building ends up looking like. Say for the box-like design that we often see in residential houses these days. Or the internal makeup with the bathrooms usually separated from the lounge.

That’s not to assume that influence is always bad. But normality allows people to do things which make no sense or have any real value, like drinking. It doesn’t give us anything good. All of my happiest moments were spent sober so why the fuck should drinking be a part of that?

About a year after my first sip saw that it was time to have my first major piss up. I made a promise to myself to get wasted with good company at least once so that I could say that I’d done it. Any opportunity to make good on that promise and I’d take it. One day my friends held a party and it got a lot crazier than it needed to. A dozen Mavericks, a splash of cider. A few shots from my friend’s dads Whiskey bottle, the whole bottle. It snowballed into this late night rigmarole of hellish partying.

By no means is that a complaint though. It was one of the best nights of my life. A messy night of alcohol infused melodrama mixed with relationship issues, which we’ll talk about in just a second, and self-destructive friends. It ended with one of my friends leaking off the balcony and getting smacked over by the person he leaked on standing below the balcony, and rightly so. I guess for the main part drinking back then was all about learning who the right people are to be drinking with and getting to know what my limits were.

So what’s the problem?

I had a lot of relationship anxieties. Call it weird, call it whatever you would like. My relationship issues didn’t spark from a lack of love or a lack of laughter with my ex’s but instead because I was lonely and afraid of being rejected. With this new found substance it gave me opportunities to express how I was feeling better than if I was filtering them out sober. Drinking was my outlet to treat other people like shit, a very unnecessary and tiresome fact. There wasn’t much of an opportunity to realize it at the time but it was the start of a two-year period which would cause me a couple of major problems.


A little backstory:

Relationship issues were something compounded into my early childhood. With my biological parents never having raised me, returning to my life when I reached the age of five and then finally disappearing again was the first mistake made during my earliest childhood foundation building stages. It was when they came back and stuffed everything up again like ripping off a bandage and stabbing around the first cut holes.

Reaching those early pubescent years thinking about acceptance from my peers was a big deal for me having lost some of that at an earlier stage. Coming to grips with experimenting and learning how to love others was another major design flaw for me. I knew how to love others because I’d been treated properly growing up but my problem was a lack of feeling accepted.

Fast forward into my late teenage years where I discovered alcohol, sex, and money. The problem with rejection was still very entrenched in things. Call it a growing period, call it melodrama. Nobody needs that stuff. If the problem is with me then I guess the solution lies with me also. Time to learn how the wood meets the nail and where it all fits together. Perforated eves on my rooftops. Water tight to shelter from the rain. My later teenage years were and have been a time of significant stuff ups. This is where some backstory is really necessary.

Seventeen was the magic number when it all went tits up. Still coming to terms with sexual orientation and also struggling with relationship issues. I guess turning seventeen was the moment of chaos and madness. During my friends eighteenth, after a morning, afternoon and evening of binge drinking. I’d only recently learned that I was cheated on and so I ended up using alcohol as my scapegoat. Running away from my friends through a river in my brand new blazer, swearing at the police in the back of the police car and spending a while in jail. My friends who were upset were forced to call the police on me and it was the first really big wake up call to sort things out at a structural level. It was like having an earthquake testing the integrity of a building and it all coming tumbling down.

It wasn’t the drinking, it wasn’t the cheating, it wasn’t my age or a lack of support from my friends. They only helped push things over. The problem was a design error. My rejection issues and how they affected my ability to withstand social pressures were to blame. This stuff might be pretty dramatic for you but having lived through it and knowing what it was all about (and this blog being about what I see) I guess what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. It was hard for me then and let’s use it as a big learning opportunity for us both.

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I just wish I’d learned earlier…

Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. The year after my first major breakdown was the second series of incidents which didn’t need to happen either. A real judgment moment I guess. In my first year at university, I’d overwhelmed myself. With a long distance relationship on the go, studying architecture full time and pretty much working three jobs at once there was way too much for any one person to be juggling. Mix that with some significant rejection indifferences and one evening of hard drinking after thinking that you’d been cheated on the second time and voila!

The second time I broke down, everyone around me let me know that it was time to do something significant about it. Some of my best friends no longer felt comfortable around me. Some felt anxious when I was in the room. One Monday about a month after I’d learned my girlfriend had got with someone else at a party, sick from not sleeping, taking antibiotics, drunk on life,  eventuated with punching walls, head out the window and a two-minute wrestle with a couple of bulky police officers saw me again in a police cell with hell to pay the day after.

I’d lose friendships. I’d lose trust. My parents would have felt anxious not knowing what state I was in. My halls of residence would quickly kick me out and there’d be no more room for my bull shit. But most importantly, I’d get the opportunity to grow from my mistakes. I’d get the chance to change which way I was going. This was the last time I’d drunk to the point of non-remembrance. The last time I would see red and decide that other people were to blame for my issues and actually do something about it.

The months after were a whole lot of petty nights out until I came to the stage where I could see how drinking only catalyzed issues with other people my age it was never the cause for the shit. I learned that the real problem was always deeper if there ever was any. So it was like this big moment of realizing after ages that it doesn’t even matter. That drinking is completely pointless. That it’s never going to help me in any significant way, therefore, it should never be treated as a highlight of my day.

When people ask why I gave up drinking it’s not because I had problems with drinking it’s that I have problems full stop. That alcohol is just making my life much more difficult and that I should definitely treat it as if I were a 49-year-old alcoholic. As if I did have mental health issues. Not living in fear of drinking but instead coming to terms with the fact that I don’t need to drink and there’s never any premise that makes drinking necessary.

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Since then: 

Every occasion where my friends, family members or girlfriend would drink I’d always feel privileged to be the sober one. There is a lot of reward in deciding not to drink. For one, being a poor student it saves me a whole pile of money deciding not to drink. If there’s one thing I notice with my friends and flatmates it’s that the ones who drink spend a considerable amount on purchasing drinks for nights out and it’s something I can always appreciate to a high degree.

My next big gripe is that I’ve probably lost weight thus far this year. I used to be into all of the sugary stuff like espresso martinis and gelo shots, but In general my drinking used to be pretty unhealthy. So it was another huge advantage for me was improving my health, I might have made up for that one in eating cheese but at the same time, it’s always something else you can feel really proud of.

The night I gave up drinking was the night I got back with my beautiful girlfriend. It wasn’t the decision to love her that made me want to give up drinking. It was to improve on myself and stay in control of my actions and remain totally accountable for things that inspired me and encouraged me to make some significant design refinements.

My love for her has only become stronger over these last few months and every time I’m with her enriches our relationship. Which brings me to my lucky last proud moment is that giving up drinking has improved my relationships with people. I am able to communicate with my family and friends that I feel proud to be a part of their lives humbled sober.

There are always rejection issues. Unfortunately, it’s a product of poor design. I think it’s worth noting that there are significant steps which have been taken to reduce the risk of feeling anxious in social situations but there are always a few moments of random madness during a confrontation that drive a bit of upset.

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What does this mean for you? 

The reason why I started this blog was to advocate for those who don’t know how to voice their concerns for particular issues. There is always a reason to improve somewhere because nobody knows everything and wisdom is the opposite of knowledge. Wisdom is knowing that I know nothing. That the glass is never full. In that space, you can always take on board something new. You can always lend somebody a hand.

To some kids or young adults out there, and even some who are older might find that my journey resonates with them at some stage. The point is to use that for good. The change didn’t happen the first time I realized that drinking was a problem. The change happened when I made the same mistake a whole bunch of times.

But this isn’t all about me, any more than it is about you. If we can get to the crux of things we can notice that if we give up drinking we can improve on a lot of things.  We can improve Friday night because we’ll get tired more early, sleep earlier and feel better in the days after the party. We can look after friends and loved ones when they need our help most. We can improve our well-being and ultimately improve our general health. Save money and save lives when deciding not to drive drunk, legend.

Mate, there’s literally tons of opportunity for development and improvement when you decide that drinking is a big waste of time. Because when you build a house upwards from the foundation up and you do a solid job, without getting a cowboy builder in to do a shitty job, minus the drinking and all the bull shit, you end up getting a solid person.

End.

Stay tuned for my last week of blogs.

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 093 Sexism/Feminism & What I Think

Let’s do this!

First off for those who don’t know, I am a nineteen-year-old male student studying in Wellington city. I hope you enjoy this discussion as much as I did and if you have any comments please feel free to leave them at the end of the blog!

Why does it matter what I think?

Because it’s an opinion piece. Choose to listen or take off your apron and f*** off upstairs. Now that we’ve covered my inner Gordon Ramsay, I’d like to talk about feminism and what it means to me and why it’s significant. Well first off I’m your typical kiwi bloke. I enjoy the banter of cracking mum jokes, l enjoy sparring with the lads in the dining room. Going out to town with zero thoughts about sexism but instead, jam out to some sick tunes at a drum n bass concert.

I don’t like doing the dishes, cleaning the windows, unblocking the drains. I don’t like having to finish assignments, sit in exams, worry about hand ins. There is nothing nice about having to stay up till late o’clock to finish an assignment in the morning. I don’t like it when my friends are disrespected by other people. When they’re groped In inappropriate places, when they are wolf whistled at from the other side of the street.

There’s nothing nice about watching your friend upset in a rut because she was told that there was a guy staring at her breasts. There is nothing nice about being accused of being that guy either. Walking through the bras and underwear section of Farmers with your girlfriend or female family member and being accused of perversion. Both sides have to make more of an effort that’s for sure.

We are on the same page. In an urban society, we are on the same page. Not to say that all places are urbanised or support females in their rights and needs. No person in their right mind likes to see another person being treated like shit, guy or girl. It’s a human thing, so easy to relate when you’ve been through it all before. Feeling upset when somebody else lets you know that they’ve been traumatised from sexual harassment or abusive behaviour that people seem to think is okay.

There’s not much international support to stop historic cultural sexism. But the feminist regime is slowly becoming an urbanised trend. For me at least I feel that there isn’t as much sexism in New Zealand as there was back even when I was a kid ten years ago. Technology has evolved to allow the media to expose those who withhold strong opinions against females. Kids are taught in school that females and males should have equal footing in any environment.

Back then they might not have been telling us the whole truth because I don’t believe personally that there ever has been a true representation of equality between both sexes. My point though is that we are starting to realise in my generation, the millennials, that girls have exactly the same right to express themselves as men do and that’s reflected through more frequent independent advocacies speaking out at major global conferences such as in the UN and in major countries like India and Germany.

I can’t speak for the youth ambassadors of yesterday but what I can say now is that the urban population, due to higher education and greater exposure to the likes of other social conflicts such as homosexuality, gender stereotyping, racism, fascism and general independence. Because there is so much more awareness in western culture it seems more valid that the population is becoming less sexist and more feminist.

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But what does feminism actually mean to me? What stock does it have? I don’t think that feminism has historically been about providing equality. I feel that a lot of the time there have been cases where individuals have abused their power to justify their own personal hardships dealing with sexism. Where some people have used their right to speak just to abuse those who oppressed them. When ladies try to claim feministic causes but they’re actually just trying to tip the scale and make men pay for everything wrong in the world.

I’ve come to learn that feminism originated and grew from the idea of equality between males and females. That it started with a group of people who collectively believed in the greater good the same people just of different sexes. That the idea came from promoting even footing both at home and in the workplace but more importantly in society and around the community. So my point is why can we not keep it that way? Why does it have to be tarnished by reputable indifferences which determine that we should fit certain stereotypes?

To figure that out let’s talk at a deeper level for a second or two. So historically guy’s were the ones who would lead because in many ways it was about survival, it was about having a person with enough muscle to see the tribe fed and the only way to garner that support was through hunting, gathering and labouring. So in effect without getting too specific it was more important a thousand years ago for the stronger person to lead so that we would survive.

Guys, for the most part, were given full reign over leadership opportunities. They could say, do, and be whatever sinful person they desired. They could also be a genuine person and treat others how they would like to be treated. Queue the Industrial revolution. A time when people no longer had to farm or labour as much because there was now machinery to do so for them. People were lazier and had more time in their day to create new opportunities.

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Fast forward through the world wars and the great depression, beyond technological innovation, racial inequality and you get supermodernism and the creativity generation. An evolvement from survivalist instinctivity into becoming a diverse and colourful people who have time to iron out a few mistakes in the ways things are run. We no longer live as a people who rely on the strongest for leadership and survival but instead rely on the most creative and entrepreneurial for innovation and progression.

And you definitely don’t need a dick for that…

What I’m saying is that I’m not about sexism at all and I think that at a human level we can agree that sexist stereotypes are archaic and outdated. Feminism should be treated as an opportunity to prove that we can stick to one thing and that is equality for everyone. Not used as an opportunity to spite the other side. Because when you step on a demographics toes you are affecting everybody innocent.

It’s also a question of ego. Because guys were always the ones who had to prove themselves as being the strongest in order to hold leadership opportunities. To have any real mana in conversations or decision makings it was vital that they never showed any sort of vulnerability. It was expected that the male would never cry, would never show weakness because they were expected to pull the weight and the only way to do that was to show that they had no weaknesses.

But what makes social roles in urban spaces so different to the ruralist lifestyle? 

With urbanism comes an increase in population, there are more people. Becuase there are more people there is usually more money, particularly in western culture. My theory is that it makes more sense for businesses to exist in those urban spaces. Like food stores, supermarkets, clothing stores etc. Because everything is more convenient you skip out the necessity of just surviving and you create an atmosphere where people have time to stop and think. Stop and think of societal needs like racial equality, gender stereotyping, feminism etc. Space where the only variable is creativity. From that sparks a whole lot of other things such as innovation and progress.

What I’m saying is that it’s all good. We’ve now got time to chill out and not think too hard about surviving in urban spaces. I’m not claiming that all places are urbanised, and we’ll talk about New Zealand in just a second. But the marginal discussion is that we no longer need sexism or ever really did because girls have just as much purpose in modern society and just as much responsibility to upkeep their civil duties. Pay taxes, drive on the left, don’t be a dick and respect other people. So yeah, of course, I think there should be equal pay in the workforce. Of course, I support female independence. I am totally on board with females having the right to express themselves and how they wish too.

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Especially in New Zealand. Such a small population means less convenience. Less urbanism back in the 80’s and 90’s because there was so much manual labour. Things weren’t done for you if you wanted to keep your family warm you’d have to go out and chop up some wood after work during winter. The great depression meant that New Zealand was in a rut in terms of making ends meet.

There has always been more sheep than humans in New Zealand. it’s a country built on farming, and I don’t know about you but it’s a far cry from sitting in an office block doing the coffee rounds. It was harder economically and so it was tougher for people to survive. At least that is my interpretation of what New Zealand was likely like well before I was born. There was more of a necessity to silence women even though New Zealand was the first country to allow women to vote.

If we want to put a label on New Zealand’s sexist culture and gender stereotyping, from a guys position it would seem more likely that sexism existed because we live in a working class country full of farmers, full of labourers and tradespeople. Work was more manual due to the population being so sparse. If we compare ourselves to countries like The United States or The United Kingdom, not only are we sparse but we’re also so isolated out in the middle of nowhere.

So when you get all of these guys who are acting really tough because they’re expected to chop the wood, mow the laws, bring home the bacon. You get a whole lot of guys with really sensitive egos. You get lots of guys bottling up all their shit. I know for me growing up and coming through an all boys high school things like expressing your feelings was such a rare thing. It still is because I came from a small agriculture/horticulture community it’s so rare to see any rainbows or any metrosexism because it’s so ruralised and very unurbanised. So you get this population of people who still believe in archaic values because they don’t know any better.

It’s like this pressure cooker environment where guys think that they have to be this silent protector and hero for the ladies because we’re taught that females can’t look after themselves. That they need a man in their life to protect them and keep them safe. Last I checked most girls seem to be pretty independent by themselves. No, I’m not saying they can walk home by themselves in the middle of the night because there are some crazy people out there who do some nasty things to people. But not for a second do I believe that females can’t look after themselves. This is New Zealand. We live in one of the most isolated and rugged ruralist countries in the world, we all ought to know how to look after ourselves.

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Feminism, as I see it, is permission to be self-sufficient without socialist expectations and rules on what you can and can’t do by yourself. Whenever somebody says sexism is still a problem in the world I say that it’s true, of course, it’s true. Because people hate change. People have always hated change, they’ve always hated accepting something new because they’re afraid of the unknown. it’s a completely irrational fear to have, like tickling. There is no precedence to be scared but the problem is we don’t know when it might end.

I’m not saying feminism is like tickling but instead the irrational fear is similar. Guys struggle with egoism because they’ve been dealt a bad hand too. Sure, it’s not nearly as rough as what girls received but that doesn’t mean it can’t be respected because those needs must be met if we are to work together and make any tangible change. Most guys don’t actually mind it’s more just about wanting to feel just as valued, which is interesting because isn’t that the point of feminism also?

Now I’m not saying that girls should compromise their success or their happiness or their independence to accommodate for male acceptance because that’s not the go. It’s more of a consideration factor. To consider that actually everybody deserves to be treated with respect, their successes should be accommodated for, they never deserve to be doubted on as an individual, and that nobody regardless of sex should ever be expected to lead in the first place.

Because some people just don’t care, like me. Not everyone wants to be a survivor and not everyone wants the responsibility of innovating. Some people are just content with being themselves and some people just want full autonomy to do that. Full autonomy to love who they want, full autonomy to be loved by who they want and be treated with respect as individuals.

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It also comes down to what values your parents teach you as a kid. What your parents teach you. What their parents teach you. As you get older you tend to give less of a shit about what other people think so the older the better sometimes. My point here is that I’ve found my family cares about my interests a lot so I can trust them with the really hard conversations. When I call dad out for being a dick or if mum is stressing everyone out. What you learn at home defines how you treat people outside of the home a lot of the time.

It is a parent’s responsibility to exactly articulate how you are supposed to treat other people. I guess it’s a call to arms to invite people to think on their feet with regards to how they respect females and males equally. That they show decency when out on the town, that nobody is accused of being something they’re not just because they fit a gender stereotype. That feminism is at the end of the day treated as an opportunity for change collectively. It’s everybody’s responsibility to upkeep equality and freedom of expression. Whether they’re a New Zealander, Islander, Irelander, Avatar character, whatever goes man everyone is responsible for the upkeep of relative equality.

Sorry for keeping you in this space for soo long, if you’ve managed to stick it through all the way to here then you’re a bloody legend. So if I could round up all of my opinions on sexism versus feminism and collated them into a list it would come across a little something like this:

  • Sexism is shit.
  • The original idea of feminism was great.
  • It’s been taken out of context too often.
  • Gender roles have evolved.
  • Urbanism has created a niche society.
  • New Zealand has adopted new values in the reflection of an urbanistic takeover.
  • I highly value independence, full stop.
  • Family values are where you start. It’s your parent’s job to teach you right.
  • It’s our job as an international community to do something about it.

 

So… What are you going to do to voice your opinion? At the end of the day what matters the most is that change is occurring. It’s real and it isn’t going to go back to the days of slavery again. You already know my position on all things sexism and feminism. But just keep asking yourself how you’re going to change the face of the planet, what can you do to help. It honestly doesn’t take much, it’s simply just as easy as being polite and respectful towards others in every capacity. Putting your own personal ego to the side and celebrate other people’s successes male or female. It’s free to be nice bro…

Today’s talk has been a work in progress for a while now, but I’m glad it has been said. If you would like more of this sort of content or if you have any comments or messages please feel free to comment on my work. hopefully we can reach an agreement somewhere.

Thanks for checking in!

 

 

Blog 092 Givealittle – Why Is It Such a Big Deal?!

So all over the world, there are online kick-starter, charity fund organisations set up by local philanthropies and large organisations to effectively become a part of making a change. These networks of good humans basically go around and let people post on their site all of these great causes and it mostly started about fifteen years ago and the first sort of known online charitable trusts was the likes of ACET, UNICEF, World Vision and Tear Fund. These really massive organisations work globally to restore massive amounts of aid to those in need.

The evolvement of the charitable donator pages’ sort of fled to the likes of cancer research until eventually, they started asking out for support on individual levels. People started looking for ways in which they could ask the community for support to get help to raise funds for things like hospital expenses, recovery aid led by community groups and it didn’t really stop. It sort of just got bigger overtime until now we have thousands of causes all for similar reasons. The likes of the 40-hour famine raising funds for individuals who are participating, there are pages setup to raise funds for kids going into Outward bound who need to raise money, all sorts.

The reason why it’s important is because it allows people to do things that they wouldn’t necessarily have any individual prospect in doing. So it does become a question for the readers whether or not they actually see a tangible benefit in donating in the first place. If you think about how hard it is out there for people to earn the sorts of money that is required of them in such low decile communities and how hard it is for families around New Zealand to even put bread on the table you do get a picture that things are tough out there. It makes me feel gross when I ask people for money, even if the cause is great because it means that people who are on the bones of the bums and having to fork out for something they don’t necessarily have any invested interest in.

The next step to this is that asking people for money is never an easy task. People have questions about where the money is going, they become suspicious when they learn that the money is going to an individuals account rather than an organisational account and it becomes this back and forth blow for blow situation where you get people who want to donate for a good cause out of their own pockets but cannot trust the person running the cause.

The problem is that it’s easy to sit and say that the money is going into a charities back pockets and that the resourcing won’t go towards any tangible or meaningful change. This is the problem because you get a lot of people who are actively seeking out resourcing for these important projects but instead receive little support from those who say they will support them, and they feel down about doing it in the first place.

My angle here is not to say that this bike ride will not be funded by the money raised from my page but instead to assure that the funds will be used to help put children who are in care into educational facilities and provide them with opportunities that supercede that in which they currently receive because they are worth the time and they are worth the effort. I have for years benefitted from having parents who love me and I think that every child should receive that same care and I believe in what VOYCE is doing and I believe in their approach because I am apart of it and I will continue to be apart of it until I feel that the balance has been met. That may take four years that could take a lifetime but my point is that the facilitation should always be met for those who have been failed by a system and parents who show little accountability. These kids deserve far better than what they have received in a country which claims to be developed.

It reminds me of earlier in the year when I was going around with my cousin doing the food bank run which is a community based project taken part around the country to find food for those who were homeless or otherwise impoverished by a lack of food and a lack of shelter. What we found that evening was that there were so many people donating the food which they didn’t need. Even if it was just a can of spaghetti people were contributing so much to such a good cause. What baffled me the most was that there were some people who would scoff from their dining room tables and carry on reading their newspaper while we ran by, and their were other families with five-six children who obviously looked like they were in hardship themselves to afford shoes for their children who were giving what they had in order to help feed others who were in need.

That really stirkes a chord with me, I think that it takes a certain type of courage to give that in which you cannot afford to give. When others are in need and you put your own wellbeing at risk of a similar situation. When you give ten dollars even though you only have ten dollars. The giving is not the part when you put a dollar into the thanks box at the end of a church service but the true courtesy is giving when you have nothing to give. Those people who sat in their chairs and continued reading the letters to the editor section in The Herald, though they may not have had any food to give, their orange tree sure did!

The point is not to be a stick in the mud and say that you were involved when you weren’t. It’s not to participate in the supporting but it is to show committed support that means something and sees the whole thing through. Humans have this natural urge to want to see something come to the end, to want to see the thing through and watch it finish. They want to know in themselves that they helped accomplish something. That their input had a valid response in the end and that it wasn’t all for nothing.  There is a certain amount of respite in knowing that one day I will reach Cape Reinga at the top of New Zealand, shivering in my boots knowing that I’ve completed the ride. But it will haunt me knowing that the only thing standing between myself and my goal of raising $5000 to ring fence funds for children in care. Knowing that the only thing keeping me from achieving that goal was down to those who scoffed and said they didn’t want to be apart of the process because they were wary of the funds uses and questioned whether their participation would have any real value at the end of the day. If my only resolve is to raise suspicion in regards to the matter, that people couldn’t put to the side their tall poppiest expectations.

My natural reaction will likely be to turn around, start a new page, in a literal sense, and ride the bloody South Island of New Zealand. Until it gets through to people that this really isn’t just a stunt to raise funds to get me a new pair of pants, or to get me some sort of coverage but instead is a real and tangible bike ride that will be one of my most exciting challenges yet. That it will be more than just another charity.

So in essence, if you’re interested in helping the ride then that’s awesome. Please feel free to get in touch with me either on the phone or on the bike. My number is 0223681411 extension for New Zealand is +64. If you just want to chat then that’s fine. I still have classes most days between 9am-6pm so anywhere outside of that time would be appreciated.

Just come at me bro. I’m over the moon that you are being a part of this journey with me. Stay tuned for updates along the way, there will be many. Please, if you haven’t already, go and visit my Givealittle page, see what areas you might be able to help in. See where the course is going. Understand what my riding style is like and just get up lose and personal because the more support I receive the more effort I will be able to put in at the end of the day!

My Givealittle page: Here
My Strava account: Here
My Facebook Page: Here
Daily Instagram: Here

This is officially the last week of blogging consecutively for me too! This is the last week of the daily blogging series; I’ll update next Wednesday on D100 what the future of the blog holds. But for now this is me signing off for another day, and as always…

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 091 Cycle For Children Update Four

This July i’m doing a charity bike ride from Wellington to the top of the North Island of new Zealand which is roughly 1100 km in length. These updates are a measure of training progression as well as updates on general stuff like planning and preparing. The ride itself will take 7 days to achieve and it will also require a lot of money in order to do so. New tubes, new tires and plenty of chamois cream. For those of you who don;t know what chamois cream is it’s when you apply an ointment to your backside because cycling is a pain on the ass. So whats new?

Since our last catch up, I have begun my training in preparation for the gradual increase in general fitness and a super increase in long distance bike riding. Since our last catch up, I’ve made a few purchases in equipment. Such as including new lights to see better during late night rides, and also a new bike computer which will better help my training and allow me to track my progress via Strava.

The main key differences I have to report include: 

  • My first week of training, which I will outline down below.
  • New gears.

So how’s the training coming along? 

So my first week I managed to ride just above 200 km or around 110 miles. After riding four times during the mid-week. If you would like a more specific analysis you can visit my Strava account Here.

It’s always so interesting to see how hilly Wellington is. The majority of people who visit, including me, usually assume Wellington to be quite flat when in reality it is a really hilly city. Over my first week of training, I found that there were a lot of hard hills lying nearby the main city. Which hurt like hell! The majority of the time my riding style is actually closer adjusted to climbing because I can find more of a rhythm as opposed to flat sections where you are very heavily affected by what the wind is doing. My biggest concern to do with riding hills is my gearing ratio because it is adjusted more to suit racing conditions on a flat circuit as opposed to climbing steep hills. So although I enjoy riding hills it’s actually really tough on my knees because I’m constantly grinding a gear not designed to be climbed on. My aim is to purchase a new set of gears to justify the climbs and make it easier for myself to ride up steep hills.

But that probably doesn’t interest you too much so let’s talk about something else. I’ve been exploring all over the place around Wellington and through the Hutt City. I actually crashed last night after a car sideswiped my front wheel and then splitting off into the gutter. Thankfully there were no major injuries but the whole event could have easily been avoided if the driver was paying a bit more attention. Which is another thing I’ve forgotten to mention, Wellington drivers suck! I’ve had buses try and cut me off, I’ve had motorists coming inches from pushing me into a rock wall, there was an incident last night when some crazy lady stuck her head out her window and curse at me for existing. It has been an interesting experience that’s for sure.

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Last week I went and visited my Aunt who lives about 40 km’s outside of the city in Titahi Bay. Always good to be surprised by a big hug and a nice serving of chicken chow Mein, not so good to ride home on. I found a really infamous road cycling hill climb nearby called The Makara Hill which in itself felt like my bike was giving birth, was a real struggle that’s for damn sure. Along the rides, I’ve made friendly with my local bike shop who has fitted my bike out to suit my needs and have given me plenty of tips on where to go and what to do. So I’ll be interested in starting riding with them soon.

As for gears, I’ve brought a new bike computer which measures every single feature that is needed for my training. With it, I also bought a new Heart Rate Monitor because for the life of me I have no idea where my one went. Training with heart rate gives me another gauge into understanding how my performance is going. Using Strava takes that one step further by comparing all of my data as well as giving me an estimated power output during my rides. SO it’s really interesting to see how that all falls into place. I am still looking at either buying or borrowing a power meter to use along the ride because power is a tremendous measurement of effort and by training with power measurements I’ll be better equipped to understand how much energy I can distribute throughout my tour of the north island. There will be days of long arduous climbing while other days they will be spent travelling really long distances. So striking it at the core and saying that it’s more important to knuckle down and get there on time versus resting up because I have a seventeen hour day ahead of me are efforts that are measurable using a power meter over just using your regular heart rate monitor and a cadence/speed sensor.

On top of buying a new computer, I also fitted my bike with a pair of new road lights which are USB rechargeable. The front light is pretty powerful and shines at 350 Lm which is appropriate in open road conditions with nothing to see. The rear light is measurable at around 50 Lm and is more suited so drivers can see me on the road.





In general, training has started off really well. I’m surprised how much I’ve actually learnt in one week in regards to taking the right amount of water and a little bit of food. Making sure that I rest on time every week and that it’s not a case of kilometre loading, yet. Also a matter of taking the right clothes which are warm enough, and playing the winds so that it makes for a safer and more enjoyable ride. It will be interesting how I convert these miles into tangible gradual changes to get to the stage where I could safely say that I could ride 1100km but in the meantime, I will just have to settle for the time that I have outside of my study to do these rides.

I am also struggling financially to resource all of these rides, especially when I crash because so much can go wrong and it can all cost a heck of a lot, especially in road cycling. So every amount means the world to me. I know I will make it to the Cape, but it’s all about getting there safely and having fun while doing it! Stay tuned for more updates as we go along, and…

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 089 Weird Is Good

I guess there is a moment when you realise you’ve not been so honest about what decisions you’ve been making with yourself. When you come to terms with the fact that not every characteristic about you is necessarily healthy. With that in mind, it delights me to talk to you tonight about my little long journey with becoming Christian and ultimately becoming a follower of god and why it matters to me.

Lets be clear, this is not some Sunday night sermon series to sell you a 90-day subscription with WHATMANASEES in God We Trust Series, but instead just give you guys a little bit of insight into my walk into becoming a follower of faith and also recognise how it has had an impact on my life and how it is still working very much on who I am becoming right now!

It all started about five years ago when I moved cities, made new friends and got into my local youth group. It all hit off after meeting some really interesting characters, sharing lots of good banter is figuring out what a quarter of the global population valued soo much, belief systems. The youth group wasn’t all for me though. It was a weird place with a whole lot of new vibes going on. A few weird conversations about some guy who I didn’t know or believed in and how he influenced and created the entire universe and knitted me in my mother womb, yeah there were plenty of weird conversation’s that’s for sure.

But my biggest benefit was that I wasn’t just another one of those stereotypical cookie cutter Christians because neither of my parents were practicing Christians of any belief system, my schools didn’t value the lesson of enforcing belief systems throughout education and my whole upbringing was based more on the “who cares just get on with it” a lot more agnostic system. Why that is significant I will explain in just a second. This was the first time in my life where a belief system, not religion, was ever really in my life. It was this massive breath of fresh air because it was so unbelievably intricate and has a history that predates the civilisation of New Zealand.

I learnt later not to define Christianity as a religion but instead consider it as a belief system as it became apparent to me that religion was more of human-based ruling systems as opposed to a celebration of a life and all the many things that it has to offer. That Christianity became a different realisation that in order for me to follow god it became more apparent that it was going to be a hard track to walk on. It was going to be a manual subscription that only myself and the other side would know how to coordinate.

What I mean by that is that I found that following God meant that it was only a relationship between myself and God and not the church or my friends. That while it is always important to love those people, it is equally important to remember that the relationship is only between me and God and not between some dick head on the television and my credit card details. That in knowing who I am and what my needs were would play a huge start in stoking that fire which would become a part of who I was now and who I am becoming.

Being brought up in non-conventional Christian ways has let me see this sort of stuff. has let me see through the bull shit, has let me feel more of a singularity. It let me feel that sense of weirdness when my youth pastor Liam started having those Jesus conversations during youth group. It started making me feel a bit more contrasted from the pack and that was really important. Being the weird one in a weird environment let me connect with God and let me follow a lot easier because I could dispute those areas where logic was originally more reasonable.

The next step was to participate more in church rather than youth group. The call came through when I was working one day as a produce assistant on my regular Saturday night shift stacking lettuces. A girl came up to me really randomly and just asked if she could pray for me. Okay so admittedly at the time I was more tired than human and so I spun around and said: “yeah sure why not.” So after she prayed for my existence and asked God to bring me into the church, I started bitching with my supervisor and carried on about how strange it was that this lady had just come up to me and professed some guy named Jesus to start working from within side of me and make me come to church.

Turns out she went to the same church as I already went to and it was really funny at the time but come to think about it the years of coming to church on a Friday night for youth and then coming again for the Sunday evening service was not such a coincidence after all. So anyway, that’s all fine and dandy but then after a while of going to church and a whole lot of circumstantial things going on it occurred to me that there was a whole community of friends and family which have inspired me, who have challenged me, who have made me into a person who could receive the gift of Jesus’ love today.

While you might be asking yourself what the heck this has to do with anything and that this story might not actually have any huge impact on your life it actually could. Because tonight I was sitting in church thinking to myself how incredible this really short but immeasurably important journey has been so far. To put my Jesus branded boots on and to walk that path to finding a bit more solace and lot more balance into an every unbalancing life. To accept that I alone am not strong enough to ever be enough for God has been the most humbling experience I have ever had thus far.

It’s weird thinking that everyone is messed up beyond repair and that there is a mechanic who has an unlimited supply of replacement parts for us. But anyway, that’s my random spiel on god for this Sunday, I hope you found something out of tonight’s conversation. If not keep looking, it’s all those random weird moments which bring a life of incredible opportunities which will shape and mould you. Stay safe and keep blessed.

Thank you for checking in!

Blog 086 Bravery & Persistence

Today’s Challenge:

I want you to think about what one thing that challenges you physically from doing that you have always wanted to do whether that’s running a marathon, swimming an ocean mile etc. The next thing I want is for you to actually ask yourself if you can do it or not. 

  • What is one thing that you’ve always wanted to do?
  • Can you actually do it? 

The aim is to find out whether you’re actually brave enough and persistent enough to create a plan to do something that pushes your boundaries. That other people might tell you is a bad idea. These apart of a new series for the last two weeks of blogging. There is no goal, only that you participate and that it helps us both learn something.

 

 
I think there’s a stage when you realise that you couldn’t care less how well or how badly something is going to go. When you’re working on an assignment late into the night and you notice that you’ve passed the point of no return and decide to carry on. Tonight’s discussion concerns persisting through the rubbish we have to put up with every day to remain and achieve things before thought not possible. We’ll also go into some depth regarding bravery and what that sort of means to me and how it’s usually operating in tandem with persistence.

Today’s weather was absolutely shocking. With a north westerly wind howling through like a flicked towel made it hard to walk straight or in my case close the door of the Uber. No shade. There was a stage in the afternoon when I was heading to my only lecture for the day and then a fire caused the whole building to be evacuated. A couple thousand antsy students between the ages of 18 and 30 all crammed on the side of a hill.

The biggest concern was that the class was only 50 minutes long and because the fire alarm happened moments before class was supposed to start more than half of the lesson was overruled by somebodies overcooked lunch. Like it’s not as if all of these students and staff hustled their way up the lofty mountain, Kelburn Campus, in shit weather or anything.

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Above:  WHATMANASEES Instagram

But when I missed my class out of no fault of my own, I thought it might be a good idea to get out on the old bike and get some kilometres in. But at the time it never occurred to me that there was a storm coming in. After the point of realising “oh man how will I get out there safely!” Your brain sort of shuts down at a certain point when it notices that you might be putting your body at risk by going out into bad weather.

It takes a lot to convince the brain of something it doesn’t want to do. It’s always most difficult when you haven’t pushed the boundaries in a while. Kind of like stretching old muscles for the first time in a while. Because when you do something that your brain doesn’t want to it pretty much goes against every order your brain has ever had. To keep you safe and to make sure that every crisis is averted to ensure your health stays balanced.

Just like riding your bike in 80km winds, hail, and 10mm of rain in one hour just as it’s getting dark during peak hour traffic. I think for me this was a bit of an excitement factor to get out there and just ride regardless of the weather. Had enough of not doing what makes me happiest. Persisting and being persistent to get out there in the deluge, head down and just go. Admittedly it was extremely cold but i’d never say that i’ve felt as much liberated when you reach that moment of no return. When you’re balls deep and it’s all going tit’s up you learn to keep going.

I guess that process is applicable to everyone. You can actually accomplish those ridiculous goals you come up with it just takes a lot of hard work and a tonne of persistence to keep getting out there no matter the weather. If you want to walk the length of Earth then you can there are clubs for that. If you want to climb Mount Everest on a bike but you can’t get yourself to Nepal, you can there is a Strava challenge called Everesting which is a challenge where you have to climb one climb as many times until you’ve climbed up to the altitude of the peak of Mount Everest at 8848m.

While i’m obviously trying to be motivational and all of that soppy stuff, at the end of the day if you’re just practical and realistic with yourself about what you can and cannot do then it makes everything easier. Rather the elephant is in about 75 bit chunks and it’s your goal to pass one or two chunks each week until it’s finished.

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Bravery is like colour. Everyone has their own perception of what that might look like. When we apply it to our daily lifestyle is changes the tone and mood of our day. When we cave after our boss asks us to do an extra shift on the same day and we say yes when we don’t want to it makes us feel shit. When we don’t get our questions asked in a lecture or tutorial because we were too anxious to ask a question we feel bad about it.

But when we tell our boss that we can’t be bothered and that life exists for us outside of our 7-4pm shift work, that’s confidence. When we raise our hand to ask a question in front of three hundred people in a lecture, that’s confidence. It allows us to be there for our mates improve on the banter. It allows us to be there for those we love, and rip them out when they say something dumb.

When you make time for yourself and you make time for others then essentially what you’ve created is colour. Bravery in the form of confidence. To achieve what you didn’t think was possible takes bravery because if you always do what you’ve always done then you’ll never get what you’ve never had. Learning to confide in yourself that you’re not going to be around to make art with all your colour is not immaturity, it’s growing up,

For me, learning to become more persistent with my working efforts and doing what is right rather than what i’m told is right has been my biggest struggle. Pushing past the boundaries that my brain has created because the biggest critic in your life is yourself. You can say you have your own back because that’s easy. The reality is that most people and sayer’s and not doers.

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Getting out on that bike for some might be getting to work on time. For others it might be getting married to the person they love. It could be handing in an assignment the day before it’s due and having set that goal three weeks ago. It could even be something mundane like doing the damn dishes.

It doesn’t mean you have the right to be a dick about it. Other people can be brave to and you should respect that and give them space they need to grow. it’s called tall-poppy syndrome buddy, look it up.

End.





I’ve decided that i’m going to start up a daily challenge for us both to push ourselves on. It could be absolutely anything. There is no goal asides from asking yourself a basic 2-second question. The aim is to improve on reasoning skills and self confidence levels. But aside from that thank you for reading along today I truly appreciate that. And as always…

 

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 085 Growing Up

I guess I’ve reached that stage in the year when I’ve decided that it’s time to rest up and reflect on the year so far. In light of recent events heading back to Wellington to continue studying, personal matters and the creation of my blog I think it’s time we slowed down a notch and discussed things from a growth based perspective.

Since my time back at Victoria University this year, I’ve taken on another degree majoring in public policy. For me, this change happened after my work as a youth advocate swayed me into realising that while I’m terrible at helping people on the ground but I’m amazing at telling adults they’re shit at doing their jobs.

This coming after working for the Ministry of Social Development as an advocate, advising ministers on their shortcomings in creating a new children’s ministry. I guess the revelation was recognising how bad things were at a systematic level and noticing how people in power very rarely utilised their ability to make well-informed decisions and instead settle for second best all of the time.

Choosing to take public policy means that I’m aiming at governmental analysis. It means that when I leave university it’s likely that I will work for the government in some capacity. My ability to communicate both audibly and through words has basically pushed the boundaries of what I thought was possible. Having a strength is visual communication from taking a degree in architectural studies also gives me the edge to clearly articulate what it is I’m trying to portray through media and I’m hoping that this array will accumulate to acquiring a role for the ministry beyond my studies.

Coming into this winter these discussions become more important, with examinations with assignment hand ins. All are linked to a stress factor at the top of the scale saying that it’s almost imperative that I maintain a high level of concentration and also a huge resilience to whatever work is put down in front of me. Day’s of procrastination are spent best as reflection days and days of resting so that when push comes to shove I’m ready and prepared for whatever comes next.

Although resting is important, most of us can relate to the whole Sunday-itis thing when we can’t be bothered because we need to be somewhere in twenty minutes and it’s super cold outside. Just one day might be fine every now and again, once or twice a week I have found is unacceptable because it shows an unwillingness to complete the tasks at hand. A building won’t be structurally sound if not all of the supporting weight bearing columns haven’t been put in place.

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Being a typical kiwi kid, laziness is what I’m good at. But also being a kiwi teenager it’s easy to doubt yourself a lot. I’ve found over the first half of my first semester this year that I’ve been doubting myself heaps and being very critical of my work. When I miss a lecture it’s almost like things will never be the same and that grades can’t be recovered from what they could have been previously. Like someone died and they can’t be replaced almost. It’s an interesting discussion to be had.

There must be an existing parameter that suggests people in New Zealand are generally quite head strong. There must be a statistic somewhere that evaluates on how stubborn and tough kiwis are because when I look at the general culture it does have something to that effect. When the majority of the population are in the working class demographic it does seem logical to assume that New Zealanders like Australians have a very staunch approach on “Hardening Up” and “Doing It Yourself.”

It almost seems as though the culture of New Zealand is so intrinsic with defining how we as individuals tend to be a lot more individualistic in comparison to other countries because we are isolated and rely on ourselves to bring the bacon home so much. Everything seems a lot more imperative such as work shift hours, hand in’s, exam times etc. When we miss those schedules, for me it seems as though I’ve failed in life. Like it’s my fault that this has happened therefore shade should be applied to all of my achievements.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that it’s so easy to get stuck in that reoccurring pessimism. Going from missing a deadline, or a lecture, or a shift at work without an excuse into feeling anxious about doing it again and then becoming upset about it, doubting that you are amazing in every right and then losing a piece of identity in the process. Only to miss the next deadline. It’s a really vicious cycle and it’s really hard to overcome when you’re so entrenched in it.

University life for me has been a whole barrel or rise and repeat moments which have characterised how well I do in classes. It always comes down to that anxiety being the hinderance from success. Growing up realising that you’re a lot more amazing than you think to go into these environments surrounding yourself with people who can and beginning to doubt how incredulous you actually are.

Leaving university to go home during the easter holidays taught me how important family is. It taught me how massive the contrast is between spending time with family versus being caught up in the little rinse and repeat bubble of doubting my ability to achieve. Going on bike rides and spending tie with my family completely removes you from any importance of university and it makes you believe again that it’s possible to do anything you’d like so long as you put in the hard yards to do so.

The best way to achieve those hard yards I’ve found is to remove the anxiety by getting used to them. I’ve found that telling myself how amazing my achievements are so far is just not enough to bring sunlight through the anxiety but instead accept the fact that something has happened, hurt for a moment and then carry on. Remembering that family will be there at the other side of the tunnel and that the sun will come out again this Spring.

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This is all a big part of growing up. Learning about the culture, making tough decisions to move on to something else when it doesn’t work out. Riding through the bullshit to grow and become stronger. Reflecting often and removing yourself to restore some identity whenever possible.

Looking back on the time where I went home to spend some time with my family has been a really stark contrast. Noticing that my general behaviour was a lot more hostile, understanding that it was because of other people’s drama that made me feel the way I was and made my efforts seem a lot more shit than they were. Coming back to Wellington this half-semester has taught me how imperative it is to get away from it all. Physically remove yourself from that space so that you can be content with what you’re doing and that other people’s bullshit attitudes such as “Hardening Up” and “Doing It Yourself” is completely useless because you simply cannot do everything by yourself and you can’t just harden up. You weren’t made to be by yourself in life.

For those non-Christian readers skip this paragraph if you’d like but God asked us to love ourselves and love others. Which means to be humble and care about those around us. I don’t see that being interpreted as, “be yourself and be mean to others”. It doesn’t seem natural because it’s not. Condemning yourself to a life of independence is false faith because you’re relying on yourself rather than relying on a God who has blogged his whole life recording every situation that happens. Why wouldn’t you build your life around that?

Coming back into Wellington after being away fro a couple of weeks made me value life outside of university too. It made me notice how robotic we all become because we value deadlines above health, we tell ourselves that it’s more important to get it all done because we are paying a heck of a lot of money to do so. In many way’s that’s true. It’s really hard out there. I’ve recently written a blog regarding Blog 080 Working In Retail. In it talks about the dependency on work to hold up families, to feed children, to bloody survive. University is an expensive place that some simply cannot afford so will go all out to make sure that they stay on top of the workload put out in front of them.

I’m totally all for that. But it’s a messed up system. A system that operates in these gigantic facilities when it’s 2017 and mostly every student has a computer (Macbook Pro) and it’s still valued to move away from home from the comforts and reminders of having a family etc. The system is what makes little sense to me. In that University is a massive business that exists to care about your education no more than a psychologist cares about your mental wellbeing.

The system itself is a flawed one that makes ono sense whatsoever. So don’t take it to heart when they all flock to your door telling you that what you’re doing is non-sensical because at the end of the day you just slept in, you’re still alive and your family still gives a toss about you so it can’t all be bad.

End.

This was a wee update on all things growth related! If you want to check out my daily blogs I usually post daily between 10am-1pm so around that lunch time period – WMS.

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 084 Cycle for Children 2017 – Update Three!

This July i’m doing a charity bike ride from Wellington to the top of the North Island of new Zealand which is roughly 1100km in length. These updates are a measure of training progression as well as updates on general stuff like planning and preparing. The ride itself will take 7 days to achieve and it will also require a lot of money in order to do so. New tubes, new tyres and plenty of chamois cream. For those of you who don;t know what chamois cream is it’s when you apply an ointment to your backside because cycling is a pain on the ass. So whats new?

Since our last catch up I have moved back to Wellington and have started my training. I’m deciding between riding a certain number of kilometres per week and getting in plenty of rest days. The problem with training for really long distance tours is that there is no clear cut way of doing so.

  • A Fresh Bike.
  • A New Training Regime.
  • Adapting To The Environment.

A nice tidy and well kept bike I have found makes miles of difference because at the end of the day how you’re feeling defines how well you ride. It’s important to have a well maintained bike so I took it into the shop last week to have a few things checked over. Turns out my chain was nowhere near safe! Nor was my three spokes not enough rear wheel which was pulling to one side! Who would’ve known?

The bearings in the old wheel were replaced too and theres a high chance that i’ll put smaller gears on the rear cassette to make it easier to climb hills at a slow pace seeing as i’m not training to ride the Tour De France this winter. I’ve also been using my cellphone to record my rides. I’m using an app called Strava which i’ve had for years but is an extremely wicked tool which measures pretty much everything about a bike ride.

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So let’s talk about Strava for a second.

Strava lets me record my bike rides in a really organised and well presented way that I can pull off, study and analyse to make sure that my ride’s are all well balanced so that when I get out onto State highway one on the 10th of July I don’t run out of gas before i leave Wellington. By using Strava I can track my riding progression and decide how much work needs to be done to improve and prepare better for the long haul.

Strava tracks and captures a few different measurements such as speed, cadence, heart rate and power output. it also tracks the weather on the day as well as the elevation of the ride which is really useful when looking over the rides at the end of day. it also has a feature which has segments that allow me to rate against other riders. But at the end of the day this is all about having fun and not necessarily training to win the Giro D’Italia.

Strava also includes how much riding i have been doing week on week which is really good for donors of my Givealittle page to view and track how much work is being done. That feature will also serve as a reciprocal device for future rides. these blogs will also be extremely useful if i decide in future ventures that may pop up over the year, which i’m hoping they do.

You can visit my Strava page: Here


What training am I putting in before the big ride?

I’m no road cycling coach nor am I a professional rider in any way. But I know what my body needs and I understand what tired means. So my training is purely based around my health and the needs that pop up over time. Those many 6 am starts to the day waking up my girlfriend on the way out of bed.

Theres a few important factors that i’m considering as i’m learning over time. The first is environment, it’s going to be really damn cold. Training in the cold and getting plenty of good cycling jerseys is pretty much going to be the biggest deciding factor for me to consider when riding over the North Island.

The second big concern is the elevations. What sort of terrain are we talking about here. Most of the west coast of the North Island is relatively flat so i’m not hugely concerned for most of the time. However, on my first and third days heading along the coast i’ll be faced with a lot of really tall climbs that i’m going to have to train for in length. Baby steps though…

My next big worry is my general fitness level. I’ve never trained for something as big and as scary as this before. So getting a million base kilometres in now and not the day before the ride is going to be pretty much life saving. I don’t want to be sat at the top of Mount Messenger 100km away from any significant settlement and run out of steam.

The next big thing is hydration and lots of it. Even riding in the cold weather here in Wellington i’ve found that most of the time i’m still gasping at the top of each climb needing a lot of fluid to replace all of the sweat flying out in all directions. There haven’t been any spectacular rides for me yet but food is going to be the next concern. Using the information from my rides a couple years back I kind of remember having to eat a tonne in order to stay upright on the bike most of the time.

But that was only a few hours. This rides going to take around 60 at a moderate pace. This means that it’s probably going to be a case of expect the unexpected because shits going to go down and it can’t be me from my bike.

A VLOG HAS BEEN LAUNCHED!

Check it out below!
My Youtube Channel – WHATMANASEES Video Logs

With the video logs taking precedence it makes reporting on the overall ride even easier! ,Most of the videos are going to be taken during the middle of the ride because it’s just easy and life is all about easy.





That’s another quick update for the week. Keep involved! I appreciate all of your support.

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 083 Back To School

Today’s discussion comes from a different light. With the traffic returning to the city as students swarm in the thousands to their flats/apartments and halls of residences. The stress factor is reintroduced as assignments and hand-in’s are usually due the two weeks beyond the holidays.

Coming with these are seeing friends again, catching up with the washing and the latest episodes of The bachelor. For others it might be a reuniting with their partners, doing the romantic thing with the flowers and the chocolate gift givings. While those things are great, I didn’t want to bring you here in this cold wintery evening just on pure positivity.

Lets be realistic. It sucks being back at university. With exams on the not too distant horizon and a pile of hand in’s this week, it’s easy to suggest that it might be a bit more than stress central around here. With the dishes piling up, bills to pay. Missing family seems to be number four in our priorities checklist.

Today I want to talk about student mental health and refer to, in particular, student suicide. This is not to mess with loose feathers for other students but it does need to be talked about more often. In reflection of the hit new teen TV series, Thirteen Reasons Why, maybe it’s useful that we look into the concern again coming into what looks like a cold month of May in preparation for the examinations in June/July.

Though it has never plagued my life as a student, it can be said for me that these months are usually a little bit more emotional in comparison to the likes of Summertime and Spring. Easter is the last major holiday for a lot of people carrying across the seasons so it does need to be talked about and applied to many people that suicide should never be the option.

We need to talk about suicide and the only way to do that is by taking a journey down suicide lane. The TV series aforementioned has been reported to romanticise the idea of suicide by encapsulating the death of a teenage girl and making up thirteen reasons why she ended her life. In some respects it is true that the idea was brutalist but in no way do I see that as being an accurate representation of what the director/producer was trying to portray.

First and foremost was that they wanted to raise awareness for something controversial. With all things controversial, like gender equality, sexual orientation, race, religion and abortion. There are always differences of opinion. The only way to raise awareness for something as horrible as suicide is by doing it in a way that would capture peoples attention and the way in which they did that was extremely successful.

You can visit my full in-depth review of 13 Reasons Why Here

But that’s not the point. In relation to the upcoming weather patterns, being winter. I just wanted to raise the point that things can get pretty miserable through winter and that it’s important to focus on what does matter like family, friends and making sure that you don’t forget to buy your girlfriend plenty of gifts over that period.

While getting back into school is really significant it needs to be said that from a males perspective. You never feel more isolated than when you’re cold, have exams to study for and your friends are busy with their assignments. I’d forgotten how amazing it is to learn stuff at school and remember that forward progress is always happening when studying.

For some people studying in itself can seem overwhelming, as i’ve grown i’ve learnt to understand that as a second year student, university doesn’t always correlate to getting work because it doesn’t. In the words of one of my architecture professors, “I don’t know how students are finding jobs out there, it’s such a cutthroat industry.” When taken into context University only teaches you what the job is and where it came from. Not necessarily how to actually do the job.

So there is this cognitive shift for me knowing that university won’t necessarily provide me with tangible work experience but that what I am doing is teaching me new skills which I can accumulate and use in many different situations. Basically, if you’re studying you’re doing it for yourself and not for a client.

Always important to remember that when things get tougher during these upcoming winter months that you’re doing this for you and nobody else. That you can pace yourself and take your time. If you’re worried that it’s not where your heart is and that you’ve wasted your money then make sure you get everything you need from it, accept that it has happened and move on from it next semester.

If you’re otherwise finding that the work load is really hard and you might not make it to your deadline, then apply for an extension and be honest that you need more time and say that it is affecting your mental health. Universities are to comply with The mental Health Act by law to ensure that your health in every aspect is kept more important than your school work. Because at the end of the day the positive you will always overwhelm that bastard inside that says not to. How will you work if you’ve contracted ebola?

I want to conclude on the note that while it’s cold outside and a bit rainy that when you go out of winter and into spring it is always going to be sunny. Your family loves you now and they will continue to do so even if you rack up a shit load of debt. Money is a man made currency that loses it’s value over time, love is forever bro.





While today’s conversation was a little less focused but it’s more of a general roundup of all things happening. Tonight will also be another blog updating on my upcoming charity bike ride so stay involved for that one!

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 082 Shit at doing Vlogs!

Yesterday I was riding my bike around Wellington city looking to find somewhere with good light and great location so that I could shoot my first video to reflect on my training progressions in preparation for my charity bike ride this coming winter. It was raining, getting dark and traffic was busier than usual. The whole time I was super excitable because it was one of my first ever personal video logs taken to reflect on my training and it was even more exciting because it represented the next stage of my new personal interest recording my days.

As I made my way up Kelburn Hill, it dawned on me that I really had no idea what it was that I was going to be shooting. No concept of image stabilisation, no idea what I was doing. I’ve been following all sorts of daily YouTubers from all over the world. The old Casey Neistat video logs, Gary Vaynerchuk’s daily vee, Cycling Maven’s cycling videos, and MKBHD tech reviews. Now I’m no media mogul nor am I barely an amateur video maker. In reality, the work I’m capable of is doing still shots for Instagram and the occasional snap chat story.

But making media for a large video streaming service to me seems a little bit more serious and correct me if I’m wrong but does content define the quality of a video or is it the editing that alone can make a crap video watchable? Today you are my teacher, today’s blog is about what you see. I need to learn how to get better at doing video blogs because it’s something that I’ve begun to learn is an important tool to engage with wider audiences.

Blogging will always be a powerful tool because it feels more anonymous and appeals to a certain demographic of people who value words over visuals. However, living in a technological age that is advancing in the media production industry. With the rapid improvement in local body media through fantastic smartphone cameras, 360-degree shooting lens’ and the production of recreational drones hitting the mass market. No longer is it just the big budget movie production companies holding the monopoly over creating successful and professional looking videos.

I don’t see creating videos as being my primary concern but it does seem like a logical development for this charity bike ride in July. It lets donors for my Givealittle with a quick two-minute update on how my riding is going, what I need help with, and just cool content along those late Autumn months. There’s a lot of cool developments in creating media through videos for this blog.

My aim is to create media that is reflective of how my training is going so that I create a bigger base. But in order to achieve that I need to get better at creating videos in the first place. From the camera to the distribution of the media. Some tips on editing videos or just some philosophical wisdom would be extremely helpful. Hopefully, this side project of another side project will teach me a skill that I can utilise for future stuff too like making videos for other things.

Areas I could use some advice in.

  • Camera Quality.
  • Editing Software & Tips.
  • Distribution and Final Touches.

A bit of back story. So my ride is from Wellington to the top of the North Island of New Zealand (1100km) over seven days. The ride itself is to raise funds for children in care to have a voice and the money is going to an independent advocacy service called VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai. VOYCE’s Website.

The side goal is to ride with GoPro cameras mounted to my helmet as well as on the front bonnet of my support car as well as a drone to capture some epic shots of New Zealand! So every tip I can get is hugely valuable information that I can get better at for the next two months!

That’s another little chat for today.





Thanks for checking in!

 

Blog 081 Cycling On NZ Roads 

Today’s chat comes from the view of a cyclist who uses New Zealand’s roads to get from A to B. We’ll cover the basic principles of riding solo versus riding in a group and we’ll also discuss the difference of opinions in the eyes of motorists who infrequently respect the safety of those on skinny two wheels.

Us not a case of not existing, as much as motorists would like to believe. Road cyclists have the goal of improving their fitness and general health. Some people are battling cancer while others are training to raise funds for cancer. Others are getting the milk and some are just exploring. But ask yourself what you’re doing and is it worth risking the life of a person by swerving in front of them travelling downhill at 60km per hour.

The general consensus is that cyclists are Lyra wearing road hazards sipping coffee and riding four a breast. But it’s simply not true. They are human beings fighting the elements going nowhere quickly minding their own business. The main argument is road safety and while I don’t condone riders going four a breast whatsoever, they generally represent ten percent of the cycling community while the rest are riding between places by themselves being yelled at for no reason but they’re holding up traffic.

It doesn’t take much to wait until the road is clear, a cyclist should move to the side of the road when safe to do so. I always do! It’s just common courtesy, I’ll shift across the road so you can pass by me and in return I expect plenty of leg room, no honking of any horns and respect for my safety.

The second rant is this argument of Lyra in and around coffee shops. It’s not a.relevant argument. It helps tremendously, and when you’re pushing a headwind which we have all done once in our lifetime, every little helps so grow up and if you don’t like man was don’t bloody look.

New Zealand has particularly shitty roads due to poor infrastructure and lack of resourcing to do so. For a cyclist on one inch wide wheels it’s considerably more dangerous to ride using the burns of the road when there is grit, potholes and parked cars. Sodomy get shitty if we remain front and center. Give us some space, it’s just common courtesy, being nice is free.

Wellington in particular is a busy city, we get it so there’s no need to be pushy. As the population rises due to increases in migrants to the country, more people will be buying in the outer suburbs which means more pressure on public transport and more importantly, more road users. As the population goes up the roads get busier. While everyone is frustrated about times to get around it’s important to remember that everyone’s pissed off. That’s just common courtesy, again it’s free.

So whether your rant is about road hogging, coffee shopping or if you’re just an impatient piece of shit. Grow up and recognise that people die on NZ roads. Be courteous and other will repay it in full. Today’s little rant is in #reflection of some guy who came a thumb width from sweeping my front wheel from under me. It’s just not good enough.

That’s my little rant for today.

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 077 Legalising Marijuana – The Age Old Debate!

NOTE: This conversation is by no means to encourage smoking marijuana. I don’t smoke nor do I drink alcohol. My opinion is only to discuss the legality of growing, possessing and smoking marijuana in New Zealand, not a lecture on how to live your life.

Today I want to talk about how our government is inconsistent with making policies against certain substances and lenient with others. That it’s money which impedes our leadership and in reality, the most important thing is and always will be people health. Mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. That the only way we will be able to grow properly is by realising that loving people is the only thing that matters. If you are convinced stop reading here… Otherwise I have set up a conversation below.





Ever notice how the word legalise now days seems to be fused together with marijuana? It goes to show how long this argument has been going on for and the sorts of social affairs we as a society are currently discussing. But what is the end goal and how do we reach freedom? To reach a point where we have absolute power over our lives, to be allowed to smoke whatever we want. The clear message is that people are becoming more aware of rules that make no sense, we are becoming more aligned with the powers that exist and are taught democracy is supposed to be about people power. So when we take it to the man we aim to get down to the gritty stuff because the new generation has been brought up being told they should question the status quo.

People are empowered in modern society to be loud, they are encouraged to make their own decisions. When there is bullshit being told to the masses, us younger generation are more inclined to speak out about it. To tell our leaders when something doesn’t make sense and challenge the powers that be to make sure their reasoning is well informed and not influenced by money and not ethics. So today’s discussion, while it’s titled legalising marijuana, is more about how times have changed and that we should look at it from an alternative perspective which reflects 2017. There are many opinions both leftist and rightist but I think what matters is discussing how we can all take something new out of it.

I’m a teenager, I’ve smoked the green stuff before. Do I regret it? Never. It is a good experience. It’s like eating Turkish food for the first time, like biking without a helmet on, swimming way out into the ocean by yourself or starting a giant bonfire. Experience defines opinions and future decision making. What I’m eluding to is realising that you can’t make an informed opinion about something if you haven’t done it and don’t understand the benefits and consequences of those actions.

Weed is numbing and fun when around the right people. As is understood, there are two primary species of cannabis leaf, the first is Sativa and the second is Indica. Sativa energises and motivates while Indica mellows and relaxes. The effects are hardly different from sleeping pills and anti-depressants. The only difference we are told is that cannabis has long term effects in high usages such as hallucinations and in extreme cases can lead to psychosis. To be honest it’s seriously just a case of not overusing the bloody stuff. Like if you ate chocolate three times a day every day, asides from Sunday when you chopped up another couple for lunch, then you’re probably going to go into a sugar coma or worse create health problems like diabetes. It’s about being smart and realising that balance or only using in the rarest occasion is the way to go, it is still a drug at the end of the day and should be treated with an equal seriousness as alcohol. Not being high whilst driving, not operating machinery and not using around children or schools. The biggest difference is actually knowing in yourself that you don’t need them in the first place.

Existing in a world where teenagers binge drink and crash cars versus stoners who fall asleep on the couch. Weigh up which drug is worse. Coming up with excuses to cause fights in town by blaming alcohol instead of owning up to your own problems. Like a chemical reaction, the catalyst (or alcohol) isn’t the reason that the reaction occurred because it only speeds up the reaction. The real problem is the two things which collided, emotions and personal circumstances like being cheated on etc. Taking ownership for situations we get ourselves into while drinking should be legalised. Not a plant that grows the same way a mint plant or a basil plant or a coriander grows up, naturally.

If the New Zealand government is going to have laws in place which prevent the production, possession and usage of marijuana. Then it needs to be consistent in creating legislations that consider all drugs including alcohol. That if alcohol is legal then why is marijuana not also? Or even better, if marijuana is illegal then why is alcohol not also illegal? Alcohol is involved in approximately one-third of all police apprehensions and family violence cases in New Zealand. Why is it that during 2015, 50% of all serious violence cases involve alcohol?

One of the main reasons New Zealand has so many social problems due to the consumption of alcohol is because it is legal and readily available to anyone over the age of 18. It makes me question why our legal system provides the alcohol and beverage industry with such leniency regarding consumption when the evidence is overwhelming that New Zealand’s drinking culture is unable to look after itself let alone drive itself home after going to the pub. So my resolve is quite simple really, why do couch bound stoners face illegalities while binge drinking teenagers are allowed to ruin parties and drunk abusive adults can cause domestics.

Money, money, money. Ever noticed how health and safety standards have increased in the last ten years? How construction workers are forced to wear more safety gear, heftier fines are applied to organisations who fail to enforce operational safety checks more stringently. How architects are forced to build ramps on a certain angle to ensure disabled people are easily able to wheel themselves to the top? That steps have to be designed at a certain rise and run?

Offences such as driving under the influence have become far more punishable and the consequences have become much more serious. The reasoning behind that is because when things go wrong, like when a worker comes to work stoned out of their brains and gets behind the wheel of a forklift carrying 2 tonnes of wine. If they knock into a shelf of wine and break $20,000 worth of product a business will want to claim on insurance because they will still want to make money. Happy to pay the excess price to recover the money in which their worker lost for them. Insurance companies investigate and look to find reasons why the wine was spilt. The investigation is based on health and safety standards.

My theory is that across the year’s insurance companies have investigated accident claims and have tried to find people to blame for causing it. Each time they find a case where there is no validation that a person could be held accountable for something happening I reckon the insurance company would go away and think of reasons to screw people over. They would probably spend weeks coming up with a way to create rules which prevent certain mistakes from occurring.

And they must… My theory is that these massive insurance companies must hire lawyers who are good at finding loopholes in our legal system to force The New Zealand Occupational Safety and Health commission (OSH) to tighten their rules and make it so that people are more closely monitored. That money and business are to blame for our government coming to heads about legalising marijuana because they know a five-year-old could make the comparison and wonder why alcohol is legal and weed isn’t. That alcohol is the leading cause of family violence in our country, that thousands of kiwis have died on our roads in the last few years from driving drunk. It doesn’t take a stubborn nineteen-year-old blogger named Mana to see that it’s a shit system.

It’s really sad that the little guy gets shit on because these big money corporations get greedy and want to save money by not paying people out when they make mistakes, no wonder people are getting off their chops. In the world where everything affects everything. Ethical morality matters more than financial security and profit margins. Socio-economics matter more than money, power and greed. People matter more than money. By addressing the needs of the people acknowledges that as a government you’re prioritising people health (mental, social, physical) and not specifically aiming for economic development.

In the case of legalising green stuff, it’s a classic example how our legal system is flawed beyond belief and pays homage to shitty leadership and a lot of social issues left unresolved. That cabinet would rather ignore the entire saga because it won’t give them seats in parliament. So instead we have kids growing up believing that marijuana is an unnatural chemical, alcohol makes uncle very grumpy, and that social media is our friend and that the black mirror of our cell phones is actually never going to affect us.

So let’s then talk about how social media may be evidence of another outlet for our next generation to be focusing in on. The redistribution of social problems such as stress, anxiety, and just a general expectation that it might make them feel better about life by searching for that dopamine kick. Because there is evidence to suggest that getting a notification on Facebook or a text message on our smartphones releases a chemical called dopamine. Which is the same stuff lance Armstrong used to win seven Tour De France races and is the same kick we get from drinking alcohol or smoking illegal marijuana.

I would argue that our addiction to social media is indeed a reflection of a change in time. That perhaps in ten years there will be new youth advocates arguing for the illegalization of prolonged social media usage. That OSH may put a meter on the number of hours we spend scrolling down our Facebook feed, that our employers must have a panel which, when arriving into our workplace, tells our employer how many hours we had spent surfing social media in our evening. So that when a worker crashes into a shelf full of wine, and due to inflation, destroys $49,000,000 worth of product and a business claims insurance. The insurance company undergoes an investigation. It is found that while the worker was not drunk, while they were not under the influence. Unfortunately, they were sleep deprived because they were three social media usage hours above the legal limit to operate heavy machinery.

When the older generations claim that our kids are soo bubble wrapped and protected from everything, this might be the reason why. But ask yourself what our kids are actually being protected from. Ask yourself what they’re being exposed too. Because these sorts of inconsistencies while they might be extreme they do reflect that our legal system, while it seems logical and well thought out. Why are we still arguing about the legality of a Mint plant looking sleep inducer when we should be outlawing the consumption of alcohol entirely and encourage social development by actually developing socially.

The truth is our government can love us, we are just fed bullshit to make the legislation look spotless, who said marketing was the only moral-less industry. We just need good leaders who are clear about things and are themselves informed.

End.

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 076 Cycle For Children 2017 – Update Two!

NOTE: This quick update is in regards to two major developments in this tour.

  • A Cause Is Named!
  • A New Support Opportunity!

As some people are already aware, this July between the 10th until the 17th is my bike ride for the children’s independent advocacy service VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai. The ride itself will be over 1100km and will take between six to eight days to complete, depending if all goes well.

In the first update we talked about the generalised route and discussed which potential areas the ride would go through, This was mainly to gauge some more support for the ride itself, trying to forge a few ideas that people might have to solve some of the more serious concerns, such as accommodation, riding alongside etc.

A number of things have happened sine then. I have planned out the master budget for the entire ride and have estimated the overall cost of the venture, I have also set up a Givealittle page in the reflection of those budgets. In regards to progress I have also set up three alternative plans in case something goes wrong along the way and that there are reassurances that if I do get run off the road, I am able to safely find shelter.

Some of the major differences are that my ride will be for VOYCE-Whakarongo Mai. My reasoning behind that is because they are a primarily non-governmental organisation that takes an invested interest int he voices of care and experienced youths and utilises their voices into helping kids who are in care currently.

One of the greatest parts of raising money for this cause is because I am directly affiliated with Oranga Tamariki which is New Zealand’s Ministry for our Vulnerable Children. Being raised in the care system it made me realise that speaking up was a huge concern and quite frankly misplaced at every level within our society. So for me, the idea of an independently ran advocacy service spoke a million words about how important change is and how real the dynamic can be.

So for me, raising funds for an organisation that helps people who were in my situation, who didn’t know there rights, who didn’t know how to complain about decisions made for them or the people looking after them, who felt undervalued and stigmatised as a pain that nobody wanted to have to pay taxes for To give that child a voice to speak up and let their voices be heard is something that we can all agree is worth the effort.

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Above:  WHATMANASEES Instagram – Day 112

The second major development is the involvement of a support car. One of my close friends, Tupua Urlich has offered to support me throughout the race including driving up behind me from Wellington to Kaitaia. Which is absolutely incredible. It’ll allow me to keep the majority of my gears all kept neatly within his car as well as communicating via radios in case of any emergencies such as being hit by a truck, running out of food and running out of Poi E when riding through Patea.

To whatever length is necessary, the idea that Tupua will drive alongside me is absolutely incredible, and it will save a lot of money when push comes to shove in the days during the race itself.

So that is the majority of my major updates since last Wednesday, you’re able to visit my Givealittle using the link below 🙂

Time for me to pass it forward…

Mana Cycles For Children 2017 – My Givealittle Page





Thanks for checking in!

Blog 075 Why Rest When You Could Create?

NOTE: A bit of late night ESSAY motivation!

Tonight’s late night conversation concerns mostly us night owls. The kinds of people who don’t value sleep as much as they value doing whatever random thing people do at 2 in the morning. I want to talk about the importance of resting properly and the exposure of getting the right amount of sleep in regards to creativity and general health with an upcoming charity bike ride that I’m doing this July in mind.

Well, it’s not going to be a long discussion tonight, as most people are probably tucked neatly folded between their sheets and long unwashed duvet inners, I want to reflect on my sleeping patterns as a teenager and how I was never an early riser in the morning. So just stay with me for about ten minutes.

When I was thirteen-years-old, I made the realisation that bedtime was completely down to what time you woke up in the morning. That as long as I got a minimum of six-seven hours of sleep time there was a healthy chance that I would still perform to an appropriate amount each day. Going through high school I would have assignments due in on the following Monday. During the weekends I would draw houses, dig holes into my parents vegetable gardens, bike around to my friend’s places and get up to lots of mischief. But I would always sit down at 9:00 pm on a Sunday’s evening and press into the work due in on Monday morning. A part of me learnt that a time of day in which rest occurred was never as important as the job itself. That I could be productive at late o’clock on a Sunday and still have plenty to show for it.

After a couple of years of consecutive practising of random sleep cycles, my body became more equipped for hard nights studying and working through whatever it was I was doing, assigned or not. I had effectively taught myself how to work around the clock to complete any task that came my way. While some might argue that it’s having no life that did that, it was more a huge part of my personality to want to work hard in order to achieve what is thought impossible.

While this chat is probably more designed for somebody who is highly strung up on the small details or a high school student who is cramming in for his physics internal hand-in. Or even someone trying to smash out a personal project on a Sunday night because they have work off for the next couple of days. My advice is to just do it. Regardless of the hour.

While most people would say not to sleep beyond a certain time or that you should always sleep at a certain time. It’s more important that if you have an idea that might change the world that you capture that the moment it reaches your clutches. Get onboard and do something about it. Don’t let your brain overwhelm that idea you had swirling around in your brain. Dreams are the ones made in the first five seconds an idea comes to mind.

From a physical point of view, yes. It’s not healthy to stay up all hours of the morning because it alters your circadian rhythm and alters things such as your immune system which prevents you from getting sick, good digestive health, and general focus during the day. But I guess that’s why so many creatives love this word coffee. Coffee is absolutely your friend. it loves you, and you love coffee.

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Above:  WHATMANASEES Instagram – Day 103

Find a balance that works for you. If you have an idea, make it and stop complaining how late it is. Creativity comes from those moments when you’re not reading my blogs when you’re not scrolling Facebook when you’re not watching TV. Creativity comes when you stop numbing your emotions and start feeling the flow of the vibe. When you start seeing things and think how you might be able to do something with those things.

Creativity does need sleep though. In relation to my upcoming charity bike ride, lack of sleep is probably one of the biggest deterrents from me completing it successfully. What I’m saying is that at a physical level, if you’re training to become a professional athlete then it’s wiser to go to bed before 11:00 pm because you need to conserve energy for the right time of the day, and it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll be playing soccer at 11:15 pm on a Sunday night, so find a good balance.

The line between doing too much work and getting not enough sleep and rest is incredibly thin but immeasurably significant. If I don’t get into a relevant sleeping pattern before I decide to ride my bike 1100km across six days in July, my body will shut down in the first four hours of each day because my rides start at 6:00 am. That my bodies sleeping pattern is not setup for those early morning endeavours. That I’m going to still be sleeping when it matters the most that I’m on my bike.

This conversation is raising the concern of sleep deprivation in endurance sporting exercises but also encouraging creativity to blossom to whatever hour suits the creator. Those sleep hours shouldn’t barricade the flow of ideas, but that a realistic approach and plan is put in motion to ensure that the creator has both a reliable system and a maximised effort. For me, today’s chat represents the first biggest recognition in preparation for the beginning of my training for this long haul journey, and that’s my resting routine.

The only thing that is more important than training, or working hard to create, is to sleep and rest the mind, body and what’s a bit of psychology without talking about the soul. Who needs jealousy when you slept to your primary number of sleep hours?

Be your own person and learn to grow within yourself, never doubt your own resolve especially if somebody tells you that you can’t achieve it. And as always…

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 074 Jealousy & Paranoia

NOTE: Another long conversation, and yes I know, another heavy topic.

Sitting in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday afternoon, I thought today might be a good day to reflect on two of the most vicious feelings we ever go through as individuals. Jealousy and paranoia. While this is not in reflection of anything in particular. It is something I’ve struggled with on many occasions. So I thought why not take the opportunity while I am camping, surrounded by family who loves me, and write something that is very painful to chat about.

Today’s heavy chat is in relation to overcoming paranoia and jealousy. To do that we will go into detail defining what the two mean and discussing the underlying assumptions we make and how these assumptions eventually turn into jealousy and paranoia. I want to analyse how these two feelings affect how we socialise and why we might become anxious. If we can accomplish this hopefully we can then relate these issues to bigger world applications and that we can both learn something from it.

So what is jealousy to me? I suppose it’s when there is a moment where my own interests conflict with decisions made by somebody else. There are a few circumstances where jealousy could be the resulting emotion. Lack of involvement or being missed out. When another person’s feelings don’t correlate to my expectations. When somebody else has something that I don’t have and attracts the attention of people I do care about. Jealousy is when control is vulnerable. It’s when we don’t have the access to somebody else’s decisions. When you cannot control somebody else for whatever reason.

The most important assumption here is the assumption that we had any control of other people in the first place. We can’t control what other people do all the time. Not even some of the time. Therefore, we cannot protect ourselves from all the bad things that happen. We can’t force our partners to never have eyes for another person. We can’t make our teachers teach in a way that only works for us. We can’t have total control of cars on the road and prevent crashes from happening all the time. We can never have enough food in the pantry to never have to fill up again. People change and food goes off, shit happens. Jealousy and conflict prevention can only be moderated by making sure that we are putting our energy towards healthy solutions. That we are monitoring close and prudently how we are as singularities. By running a tight ship we can be sure to minimise conflicts and crisis’ from occurring.

But that’s not jealousy. Jealousy to me is the tight feeling that makes me stress harder. Not a healthy stress either. It’s the feeling you get the days before Met-service states there is going to be a massive storm. A build up of anticipation for something we have little need to actually worry about or even any control over. We could probably take small steps to ensure we aren’t directly affected. However, jealousy is loosely definable as an illogical emotion. Kind of like being tickled, the fear of not knowing how long it will go on for, how long the storm will last, and not knowing if we will be able to maintain a constant level of balance and health. Not knowing if the people we love and care about will continue to do so once they invest into whatever another person has that we don’t.

For me, jealousy is a symptom of the fear of rejection and failure of succeeding. I don’t know about you but every time I’ve failed something and another person turns around and tells me about their success. I already feel like I’m good enough, not holding the mana, not being worth the attention. The immediate assumption that whatever value I considered holding within myself has been compromised because the train of thought that I had was wrong and derailed. That other people’s perception of me has somehow changed, that the mirror on the wall will show a different version of me, one that is somehow weaker than the first.

Rejection to me is like spinning out of control and aquaplaning across a teary highway. Drastic measures seem to be needed because if I don’t then it’s likely a crash is going to happen, right? Jealousy is easily caused when you learn that somebody else has something that you don’t. In some ways, you believe that the only way to get back to how things were before is by forcing the steering wheel in the opposite direction to where you are drifting too.

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But simple physics will teach that the crash nearly never happens when there is a loss of control but it’s when you try to reverse the situation by doing the opposite of what you were doing which actually causes an accident. Instead of feeling vulnerable and learning from it by going forwards, when we try hard to reverse the problem we only set ourselves up for more failure and the likelihood of going backwards. Take a Moto-GP rider at full swing riding across The isle of Mann TT for example. When in speed wobble the only way to stay balanced is to press down on the centre of gravity instead of resisting the wobble. Rejection is the wobble, correction is jealousy, stress is falling flat on your ass.

I used to always switch to jealousy because it motivated me to work harder to achieve beyond that level next time. Kind of unhealthy I know, but the anticipation of failing or being rejected is enough to spark jealousy and stressfulness all at the same time. This must affect other people, surely…

I think at a deeper level we all know that we don’t have control over other people’s lives. That it’s not really a reality that’s ever applicable or ever should be. We can try to make ourselves believe that we can but in really is all a part of an illusion that as kids, we slowly learn through trial and error that we aren’t always right, that we make plenty of mistakes and we are told left right and centre that nobody is perfect.

So we know that we don’t know everything and that we don’t deserve to have control over anybody asides from ourselves and the decisions that we make as individuals. I’m totally on board with that, shit I know that if I was the leader of a country that after a long period of time we’d probably fall into some sort of hardship. That it might work fine for a while but it will never be perfect forever because humans are dumb (I’m a human) and it’s absolutely going to turn to shit eventually. No organisation or government has ever worked forever.

We set up all of these micro-management gauges, like bank account balance checking applications on our smartphones, organised roading systems to prevent car crashes from happening, and fridges so we can see at a glance how much food we need to stay alive. We have fences up to tell other people where public land meets private lands, we have settings on Facebook which let us decide who can see our posts, there is a battery sensor at the top right-hand side of our monitors to tell us how much longer we can read Mana’s blogs. All of these micro-management gauges give us a sense of control so that we can feel in power, and jealousy is remembering we ain’t got shit.

So what I’m getting at here is that we already knew that there is nothing we can do to be perfect but through making all of these gauges we might be able to maintain the little dignity that we think we might have to rescue the lost power. I reckon that within everyone is a period of time where something has happened where we have lost control over a situation. It might be very big or it could be pretty small. Where we have felt a little bit of rejection that has made us at the time effectively shit the bed. When mum tells us we can’t afford something because there is not enough money in the account. When our teacher says that grades are a direct reflection of what we are capable of and then we get a bad grade. When we are rejected by the person we liked. When somebody tells us about our friend’s party we weren’t invited to. When our boss tells us that we are doing a terrible job. When you find out your girlfriend got with somebody else. When a business partner leaves you because they found a better partnership elsewhere. The applcations of jealousy are pretty much universal.

A build up of small moments where we feel rejected for no reason is like a mould build up on a bathroom roof. While this might be a lecture of avoidance, it’s more of an annoying notifier to get used to the pain and get used to feeling the unbearable feelings in order to feel stronger as an individual. Get used to feeling jealous and rejected so that we both become stronger as individuals. The hope is so that we can then help others through the same thing when they reach those moments.

Nobody likes to be paranoid but everybody likes to be in control, to some degree. So what level of control is healthy? What would happen if we decided that control wasn’t our priority and that we could get by without feeling the need to be in control of anything. Who sets the standard for the practicality of control?

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Above:  WHATMANASEES Instagram – Day 108

If we could make a healthy compromise in what control we’re willing to give up and what control we believe is absolutely essential to our everyday routine like what time we wake, how much food we consume, what emotional bullshit we get involved in. What common medium exists where we could evenly portion a healthy control over our routine and how aware we are of our weaknesses, such as being able to react to the decisions people make that directly affect us.

The current state of affairs for social situations is that there are three bubbles of control that we use to protect ourselves when we have to deal with things so that we can prioritise our general health and equalise when needed. The third and outermost layer focuses on wider social impacts such as poverty, child abuse, the sex worker industry, and natural disasters or the weather. Stuff that we know is really important to help fix but we will only help change them if we have dealt with the inner layers and have any energy left over.

The second layer is the decisions that people make that might affect us, but not necessarily. These sorts of social happenings are the likes of group events, work timetables, exam deadlines, family reunions, somebody knocking on our door, a message from somebody we don’t know on Facebook, etc. The second layer is also the control we try to create over other people. This is the layer we will talk about in depth in just a moment.

The innermost layer is the stuff we should always be on top of because they immediately affect our lives. Like spiritual health, mental health, physical health. Just health in general is the most important thing in our lives but I would argue that health is different from well-being. That our well-being, or Hauora in Maori, is a direct affiliation of how we are as a singularity. How we perform by ourselves naturally. But there is nothing natural about a person after they are put in social situations, you have to consider how people react when they are under pressure, this we could refer to as health.

The second layer is where jealousy lies. Jealousy takes two people to tangle with becausre it’s an unnatural emotion that only exists when we give other people the control over us. When we spend too much time exerting energy on less relevant things like what other people have that we don’t have because we live in a society that tells us that those things matter.

Can you see the problem? Can you see that valuing the outer layers is less important for our own emotional health because we are effectively wasting time and energy worrying about other people’s stuff and less time focusing on our innermost priority, ourselves. It doesn’t just stop there either. What happens when you get a broken person helping another broken person? Did the safety video in-flight not teach you to put your face mask on before helping others? Taking for granted our own health by not spending enough time re-applying support within ourselves is something too many of us do.

But it doesn’t even stop there! Paranoia as an emotion is like… Mate… Go another level deeper than jealousy and the long-term personality characteristics that result from prolonged jealousy equate to paranoia. When you get cheated on by your girlfriend you become paranoid that your next girlfriend is going to the same. It’s hard to find the courage to allow them to go to parties without giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’re not going to make out with another guy, that they’re not going to cheat on you too. Right? So it’s a process that you have to think about very clearly and work on building the from the foundations up to ensure that you are as stable as can be.

That’s something I’m dealing with now! Admittedly I’ve been cheated on twice and I still struggle trusting my girlfriend because of it. Luckily I spent a long time considering myself as being the most important person in my life, and this entire blog pays homage to that. Loving myself and putting a lot of energy into focusing on my own spiritual, mental, physical and emotional health empowers me to write and compels me to help others without considering anything in return, not money, not gifts, I don’t even expect people to read this. So long as somebody finds it useful and utilises it to some degree.

Jealousy and paranoia are vicious relationship wreckers. Nobody needs them. It is never our fault that we naturally care about other people. It’s not even our fault that other people suck and do things that compromise our relationships. But it is our fault what actions we take to resolve those conflicts. We as individuals are responsible for the actions that we take against jealousy and rejection. That’s why it’s so important that when we do crash. That we make sure we react in a way that focuses on our individualistic growth, that explores looking into relevant means of building our own support systems that accurately represent our health being a top priority, not somebody else’s achievements.

Through the love that we deserve and require of other people we can be encouraged to love ourselves and treat our own concerns as our best resolve. That no girl or boy should be worth the upset we try putting ourselves through regardless of being cheated on. That no storm is strong enough to make us feel undervalued. Through these beliefs that we deserve to be cared about, we recognise other people’s claims as well. That through birth we are all born as natural singularities, and through our adult years should always remain as natural singularities. While other people may achieve great feats we in our own rights hold characteristics which are completely admirable, which includes the respect we have for ourselves.

That is something worth being jealous over.

End.





While I know that I didn’t go into much detail what paranoia means, I think that the definition can be discovered through figuring out what jealousy means. Thank you for reading this epically long and tiresome conversation and…

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 073 Letting People Down

On A Lighter Note…

You know, it’s not so great to think sometimes that all of your problems might be central to your belief systems. How you treat other people, how you draw pictures, what you perceive to be morally right, what clothes you decide to wear when there’s a formal occasion. This conversation covers this idea of letting other people down. The concern that you have to work to solve other people’s interests. I think this conversation exists to help out some millennials who think there is no hope in bothering to seek out help with issues like depression. I think this discussion was made to unhinge all of the underlying assumptions that we might believe when something happens in our lives in which we cannot control but become upset when we think that we’ve let somebody down.

I hate that, letting somebody down. It could be anything! Being late for my new boss, getting an average grade on something and letting my family down, forgetting to do the dishes and letting my flatmates down. It’s all connected. This slate of trust between you and another person makes you comfortable, it makes you scared to lose that trust. A feeling that you care about another person’s opinions about you because that’s where you garner a lot of what you perceive to be your personality. Like your reflection in the mirror or off the water. You believe that image to be you but how do you really know what you actually look like? Is that not just a shell that vessels the being inside you? Isn’t that what we are usually afraid of? That people might mistake us for being something we’re not by something that we’ve said or done or not done and then we think people evaluate their trust in our resolve every time we mess up, based on the shell that we perceive to be our personality?

I don’t claim to be right by any means, but for me, it seems like every time somebody is let down by one of my decisions it’s the immediate relationship which I’m most concerned about. My most degrading moment is when I’m doing something heavy like chopping up a rump stake balancing a phone on my shoulder and trying to make conversation with two people at once that the let down occurs whilst there’s nothing I can do to prevent that from happening. That my anxiety and stress are a part of my personality so much so that I couldn’t stop, think and prioritise one thing at a time. It’s maddening! That it wasn’t enough how anxious I was about being misunderstood but that I was letting somebody down and couldn’t do anything about it because I was too busy chopping a steak trying to be careful not to chop my fingers off, such a debacle I tell ya…

But I guess letting people down can be useful sometimes. In the words of my amazing sister, sometimes it’s worth not looking at the glass being half empty all the time and consider that sometimes there’s nothing we can do to change the way something is and change our perspective. I think for me tonight this lesson is really apparent. It’s concerning to me that something so bluntly obvious can cause drama in the most sacred of places, my home. That I could not control how I was feeling and so I felt the need to take that out on others.

I guess this lesson really highlights the fact that there are a million different pathways to which a person could feel threatened not to ask for help but instead turn to blaming others for their hostility. I guess tonight’s lesson shed light on a certain topic that can be interrelated to other known problems like rejection and the fear of failing. Well, I guess the fear of being misunderstood also slips into this equation. it’s never nice feeling that you’ve let somebody down because you couldn’t get passed your feelings of anxiety. Like sitting in a cafeteria not being able to hold the door open for an elderly person because you’re too afraid you might hit them in the head with it, even though they’re struggling to get it open. All of these small but significant anxieties are all connected to similar tensions that occur pretty much all over the place. The above situation happened with one of my friends, and after I yelled at her for not helping the man in the wheelchair gain access to the cafe, it was only then apparent that she was suffering from anxiety after she burst into tears.

So while my last post was very doom and gloom, I just want to emphasise how important it is that people recognise how much support is out there for them. Above all, they notice there is always a direct and logical reasoning behind we feel certain things about certain subjects. Though there might be a million different reasons why we a certain way about a subject. There is always a reason…

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Above:  WHATMANASEES Instagram – Day 102

One of the ways to remove this reason is to alleviate the tension leading to those assumptions. Learning to notice that nobody should ever have more power over our lives than ourselves, learning to feel that our opinions are valued by ourselves, and learning to take away the powers that other people hold aginst us. Three extremely solid solutions to a very diminishable problem. Another thing I’ve noticed is that it’s really easy to wallow in self-pity and look for reasons to feel upset about ourselves. We predict that we might be misunderstood and may let somebody down just through simply being anxious about it! Yep, humans are weird, can confirm.

It’s something that you and I both need to work on heaps. Learning to value ourselves more, take the pressure away and learn to remove the temptation by not feeling anxious in the process. Making sure that in our heads we know there is always a logical reason for why we are feeling like shit prior to letting somebody down and in response, learning to understand people without seeing them for their hair style, their shoes or just in general what they look like. Removing the judgment factor releases the tension and allows you understand where they’re actually coming from. I wonder If i could have solved racism with that last statement?

Anyway, you do you. But at the end of the day what is most important is that you remain informed through careful reconsideration that you were right in your head and that the pressure you’ve felt is nothing more than the remnants of power that somebody else had over you. That you are valued deeply, and that others around you, particularly at home, really do love you.

Here’s to another one!

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 071 Cycle For Children 2017 Update One! 

Kia ora, my name is Mana. I’m a nineteen-year-old youth advocate from Blenheim studying Public Policy and Architecture. I’m also a whangai/adopted child and run my own blog. 😊

During the next university break from July the 10th-17th I’m riding my road bike from Wellington to Kaitaia (Via New Plymouth and The Great South Road) mostly by myself to raise funds for vulnerable tamariki/children in New Zealand. The ride will take seven days, with one day’s rest if needed. I have outlined the route down below and My Givealittle Page.

Having been raised away from my biological family I understand the emotional ties severed but I can’t imagine how hard it must be for some kids who don’t have the same support my family provided. Education is really important and so this is my opportunity to do something that I’m passionate about which is road cycling. I’ve been cycling competitively for eight years, completed various NZ cycling events a few times such as The Forest Graperide in Marlborough, Le Race to Akaroa and have ridden bikes around the world. This time I’m going a little (a lot) further than usual and this time for a reason that excites me. On the first of April this year, an independent advocacy service called VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai was created to support kids in care under the newly formed children’s ministry, Oranga Tamariki. Over the past two years, I have been involved with advising various focus groups as well as becoming a youth advocate for the Minister of Social Development, Anne Tolley.

I am massively grateful for that opportunity, and to continue the ongoing support for putting tamariki children at the centre of all decisions made for them, I thought what better way to accomplish this than to raise funds by riding a ridiculous distance for scholarships given to children in care?! Even if it’s just for a few kids! That’s still an incredible support to help build them to be loud mouths like me!

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Above fig.  WHATMANASEES Instagram

Below is an outline of the route: if any support could be provided along the way, I would hugely appreciate it because it means more money can be saved! Please email me or message me through Facebook if you have even a floor for me to sleep on! – I can do dishes pretty well (not so great at cooking chicken) 😂 I also encourage other riders to get out there with me in the freezing cold winter and tell me that I’m going too slow! This is not just a pledge for funding, it’s an awareness pledge for support in whatever way you can afford. 😊 Things are tough out there I totally understand.

  • Day One will begin in Wellington (Via SH1) across to Whanganui (215km). -Stay One Night.
  • Day Two will start in Whanganui (Via SH3) riding past Mount Taranaki to New Plymouth (170km). Stay One Night.
  • Day Three will travel from New Plymouth through to Hamilton (241km). Stay One Night.
  • Day Four will be between Hamiton to Auckland via The Great South Road (150km). Stay One or Two Nights
  • Day Five will continue snaking through the various roads to Auckland North and then continue to Whangarei (178km). Stay One Night.
  • Day Six between Whangarei (Via SH1) heading into Kaitaia (153km). Stay One Night.
  • Day Seven travelling home. Busing to Whangarei, Flying to Wellington.

All funds raised on this page will be donated to VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai. On the condition that the funds be used to create leadership opportunities for kids in care! 🙂

Being a poor student, these funds will also help me actually do the bike ride and the many tubes ill get from flats along the way but this page is also a pledge for places to stay along the route to save more money. (See Map) These opportunities would be massive!

What’s my involvement?

I will be biking from Wellington to Kaitaia (1100km) via New Plymouth (SH3) and along The Great North Road. I will be stopping through six major locations: Whanganui, New Plymouth, Hamilton, Auckland, Whangarei and Kaitaia. I will also be streaming a vlogging service (video logging) through youtube, which will collaborate with my daily blogs on my web page.

Time for me to pass it forward.

Mana Cycles For Children 2017 – My Givealittle Page

 

Once the initial pressure is lifted from this really exciting opportunity I will be able to deliver non-bike related material! But for the next three months i will be releasing “BI-WEEKLY TRAINING UPDATES” to the blog, beyond the anticipated 100 series daily blogging.

The pledge on my givealittle page is $5000, quite a massie goal but the majority of those fund go towards kids in care and funding scholarships for them to go to university! Watch this space!

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 069 Easter Holidays – A Vlog?

After a week of finishing Essay assignments, I have sailed back home for well-earned easter holiday with my family. While everyone has been eating chocolate, going ten-pin bowling, spending time camping, I’ve been working tirelessly to create some epic content for readers to grab hold of. Just kidding mate I’ve been sleeping, ten pin bowling and eating more chocolate than is recommended in a month.

We’ve covered some heavy topics this week. Such as youth suicide, abortion, discussing how the millennial generation suffers from a lack of individuality, looking into family values, planning a charity bike ride and eating better foods. This evening’s chat is more of a rain check. As all holidays should be spent with family, I’ll make this brief for the both of us. Tonight I want to look into starting a video blog (Vlog) that will be set up and ready to present my everyday happenings. From working with the Ministry of Social Development, my involvement with youth advocacy around the country, political talks at University with the upcoming election all the way to my charity bike ride in July.

The idea came up with a few people stating that it might be worth considering the idea of doing a blog through the likes of youtube and creating content online within a multi-platformed web page. I think it’s do-able. Although my editing skills are kind of poor, what it does do is adds another layer to the whole thematic approach of creating a blog specifically about what I (Mana) sees. A blog of multiple platforms. I originally started this blog only to trial a hundred days of consecutive daily blogging but I have found that the topics in which I’m referring to the majority of the time I’m pretty passionate about. So in that capacity, I’m most likely going to be in this for the long haul. Looking and focusing more on current affairs and social issues.

Road Cycling Challenge 2K17

A vlog will give me an outlet to show the progression of my training leading up to the event. I’ll be able to show some epic video streaming during the actual event also which is kind of amazing. I’m taking my inspiration from an Australian cycling Youtube channel that I’ve been following for the previous year or so called the Cycling Maven youtube channel. I think it’d be cool to start up a cycling youtube channel but with my commitments to University, it might be a little difficult to juggle. For now, the concept of a vlog is just to show my bike ride from Wellington to Kaitaia for the purposes of staying in touch with my supporters. I’ll do a few little experiments with editing and get used to showing any major topics that I want to discuss leading up to the trip.

  • Training videos. Progress updates.
  • Live streaming: Facebook, Youtube and Instagram. Supporters.

The ride will take around seven days. So that means a heck of a lot of training leading up to the event. Estimate training to take between ten and twelve weeks giving nearly no time between now and the event which will happen between:

  • Thursday 06/07 – Monday 17/07 
  • Formal planning will be this week with a give-a-little charity set up.

Hoping everyone is having a family-tastic easter break!

Thanks for checking in!

 

Blog 066 Sailing Rough Seas

This chat is in literal regards to the fact that I’m currently traveling across the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand. The discussion is particularly about learning that independence isn’t everything. That home is always a place where maximum support should be given. It’s a birthright that too often we disregard as being insignificant but in reality is likely the most important support in our lives.

Without the support of our families, we automatically start relying on ourselves a lot more. Which is great, I’m all about independence, but I want to reflect on what my parents have done for me. What my family has done for me. That perhaps the best thing about having independence is learning to rely on people so that if you capsize, you can always find your way again. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of those who were there for me In the hopes that we can both recognise that there is plenty to learn when it comes to putting others before ourselves.

Miracles come in infinite forms. Not only the concept that a priest or holy person would do something to move mountains or cure cancer. If we change the concept of miraculousness to fit into the ideology of hard work. It must be hard raising a kid. it must be hard being there for somebody even when they shit on you all the time but only focusing on the love you’ve got for them. Making compromises everywhere, buying things you’ll never use yourself, paying for school bills you without having sat a single lesson. Paying for the damage somebody else has caused. It must be really hard to put somebody else’s wants and needs before your own, especially if you’re not their biological parent.

This is something that my mum and dad must have fought through. The constant nagging about needing another dollar for sausage sizzle Fridays at primary school. Those unappreciative moments of asking for shoes you scuffed on instead of tying them, only requiring another pair a few weeks later. The pressure on these support networks or in the case of my parents, legal guardians, must be a real challenge every day both financially and emotionally. It must be hard emotionally trying to provide for a person who thinks the world is made of Cadbury chocolate and knows no differently. Who complains when they don’t get food for dinner one night because their parents are struggling. When their child feels entitled to everything they usually get and are unappreciative of the miracles their supports provide for them daily by going to work and doing what so many people do. When their child complains because they don’t receive the present they wanted for Christmas. When their friends got a better bike, larger Easter eggs. When the parent gets told to get out of their teenager’s room because the teenager is going through something and fails to explain why.

This talk is to acknowledge the other side of the story. From the perspective of the people who give everything and expect nothing in return because they only value the love that you don’t give them, so instead settle for your presence as if you’re some kind of royalty. It’s really surprising how many teenagers disregard the fact that some people don’t really have the capacity to take on the entanglement that teenagers create. It must be like kicking to keep afloat with both hands occupied balancing bills and your emotional expectations. That if they wobble to try and balance their own needs they will topple because they have to make sacrifices for your betterment. It’s can’t possibly be in everyone’s capabilities to deal with all of that. I couldn’t imagine any person to feel valued if they offered to support a person and be told that they’re not doing enough to meet the requirements of that person even though they have entirely given up their own needs to be there.

So while tonight’s chat is a rant against the teenager, who negates the value of emotions of everyone else, it’s really a recognise the age old saying to,  “treat others how you would like to be treated.” That you should respect everyone as if they were you. What would you like to see? How would you like to be treated? I know for a fact that I like my own opinion to be taken on board because I know that the value of my messages can sometimes help others. So I will try very hard to capture the imagination of that person, and that is what I would expect somebody to do is listen. That is what this entire blog exists for. The next lesson is to learn that others have had the tough love approach longer than you have. That while it’s nice to run away to university, on an expedition overseas, there are no excuses not to show love to those who cared about you and made miracles happen in your life. Not necessarily your parents, but your entire support network.

Ready for another analogy?

In conjunction with the theme, the symbolism of sailing rough seas is in some ways similar to learning how to stop being unappreciative of your support crew basically. To learn not to take the people who would drop everything to deal with the dominating personality in a random midday phone call when in the middle of a meeting. There are many personality issues that we all battle with because it’s so easy to transfix on a particular mindset that the whole world revolves around us and that nobody else matters. Not sure about you but it’s really challenging to work toward putting my own wants and needs aside to make room for somebody else. While you might argue that it’s all a part of growing up, I sure don’t see that happening with very many people. So is that good enough?

The process of sailing across rough seas as a means to let go of your own independence. Within being independent is the stubbornness not to listen to the advice of others as much because we’re too afraid that we might get hurt. So we are cautious not to listen and become defensive and eventually stop listening. That we know what is best, that our word is final and that everyone on planet earth should answer to us. Nah gee! That literally epitomises the concept of being self-obsessed. Just because you know how to swim doesn’t mean you could save yourself from drowning in open waters. Sometimes it’s okay to ask for help. To listen rather than to talk, especially to those who you’ve taken for granted for many years and put your needs before their own. We both owe it to them to be present and value their opinions with the respect and the courtesy that you would expect.

It’s all apart of growing up. Learning to know that independence, while it’s dope when it goes right, is shit when it goes wrong. That trying to paddle against the current is admirable but it’s also hilarious to watch from somebody else’s speedboat. That asking for the help of those who actually give a shit about you is wiser than struggling for no apparent reason asides from satisfying your personal goal of achieving independence, as if it were some kind of destination. Take into consideration what we’ve talked about here.

End.

While today’s chat was targetted more around looking at ideals in terms of perfect society, it really is the least we can do showing our appreciation for the many small miracles people do.

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 063 Life is Extremely Precious

Warning: The contents of this blog are explicit, it contains comments about abortion as well as sexual assault that may disturb some readers – 30 Minute Read.

Here is the perspective on abortion from a childless boy with experience in the care system of New Zealand. I want to note that this conversation is only my own opinion. That while there are many opinions, I don’t claim to be right in any way. A life is a life, we all deserve to be treated fairly with compassion and love.

Here goes…

Abortion is a really shitty thing to think about. Let’s not trivialise too much on that. It is likely the most important discussion that two people will ever have. Not many decisions a person could make would directly correlate to life or death. So it is important that we be straight up here. No diverting, no theorising on what could or should have been. Let’s be realistic and talk about this former taboo in a way that gives it the light that it deserves. I’ll start off by elaborating on the life of a child, then we’ll look at the effects this has on the mum. We’ll then discuss the current legislation regarding abortion in New Zealand, and finally, we’ll reflect on how amazing life is in a positive and reinforcing way, to give a well-rounded, nothing lost approach. Hopefully, we’ll both be able to take something from this.

I am pro-choice. Completely an utterly behind women having the right to have an abortion. So long as they have had this incredibly hard and immeasurably important conversation. That they feel safe and kept at the centre of these decisions within a system that provides them with the options they seek. That although both the male and the female hold significant voices in the discussion, it is ultimately the women’s body and it is at the end of the day their pain that they will have to endure for nine months.

When I was born, there was love between my parents. Love that must have made them happy. Unblinded by the decision to give life to me. The first and oldest of many siblings. There would have been whanau all around the country and possibly around the world who were aware that I was coming to life. In that mangy brick maternity ward in Blenheim Hospital, there would have been flowers, family, doctors and nurses all surrounding that hospital bed as my mum for the first time ever made eye contact with me. That in that moment, the bond was made between son and mother where life had entered the world. I say this because it’s important for me to tell you that love is a real thing, that no matter how complicated anything gets, that love and passion should never be misunderstood. Never take that shit for granted because it’s real.

But for a second, be realistic. Beyond the flowers, the nurses, the doctors and the love, what is true is that we’re only human. That there is a range of feelings which might complicate things. That all of those moments can change over time. That it only takes one decision to change the course from a perceived happily ever after, into a spat of domestic violence and child neglect. Unfortunately, this was what happened to me prior to being eight months old. That when I was just a little brown baby I was taken away from my family. That there was social neglect that took place. So many psychological ties driven into my little head, these affected me when I was a kid, all the way up until I was arrested for being disorderly when I was in high school. Everything effects everything,

I have learnt to discover that there are so many elements to my personality that are affected by early childhood misconduct. That I have rejection issues sprung out after reconnecting with my parents when I was a few years older, only to have those ties severed yet again. These occasions administered these micro-explosions in my personality that unfortunately caused me so much pain both when I struggled with anxiety in my teenage years, all the way up to being a young adult youth advocate. I am still haunted by so many conflicting beliefs that I’m not good enough, that my parents did not love me which is why they left me behind, or that it is somehow my fault. That it took the better part of nineteen years to realise that it isn’t my fault and that these people who made me are just normal humans. Who might have been having problems themselves, with substance abuse, with prolonged childhood abuse, who could say? That the reality is that nobody is perfect. That it isn’t my fault that I am in the situation that I am in. But for soo many children out there, for the over 100,000 people in New Zealand who have come out of the care system who weren’t aware that they had rights to their Child Youth and Family personal records, that didn’t have an incredible support that my whangai parents offered me. Without that support, these people would have suffered even longer than I did. These are lives we are talking about here. So my first position is that the parent needs to take full accountability for providing support for that baby absolutely their entire life and making sure that they know why they are in that situation if it doesn’t work out.

Sometimes it’s more valuable to realise that nobody has all of the answers so everyone is going to make a lot of mistakes. I think it’s more important to weigh up whether you’re actually going to be a good enough parent because it signifies that you are acknowledging a life, that you know this child will have to bear the pain and anger so many years after if you fail them. This is not a tick box situation, it is deciding if you are ready to celebrate the creation of a precious taonga that will have every emotion, every dream, every tool and possibly more than you do right now at this very moment. While I’m not targeting any person out there looking at having a baby, I will share my concern through the experience of a successful birth but a failed immediate upbringing and urge you to consider more than your own self, but the self-embodiment of the life of the child you will bring into this world.

If a couple understands that, then they are ready to have the bubba. But if they’re not, if a person thinks that they need more time to be ready for birth. Then reconsider. It’s important to make sure that a parent has sufficient support. Let go of your control over life, stop thinking about what your family thinks, what your partner thinks, and start thinking about what you think. Run away for a week. Go and find solace in some sacred Himalayan mountain somewhere and think about who you are and what you can honestly offer this child. Think of every situation that you have lived through where you parents have struggled in. Be warmed by every occasion where your parents have done a great job and ask yourself if you could ever accomplish that. It’s more a question of parenthood and if you would actually be a good one.

The decision of two people who love each other should be a sacred forum to make the decision to have an abortion in a safe and loving environment. That they both must understand the massive decision they’re making, not to have an abortion but to think about what life the child will live afterwards if the couple is not able to look after them. The accountability of love over a child is first and foremost on that couple. The people who decided to bring the child into the world. Without bringing the system into this, because you should know that I hate the current system passionately. The couple is completely responsible for the emotional upbringing of their child.

The only thing worse than talking about an abortion, however, must be the process of having one. Having read up on the various petitions to the government to change the legislation on abortion, having understood the views of passionate individuals both male and female, I will link their blogs down below, it really makes me feel that the voices of females are diminished heavily because we nitpick legislations which are acquainted for the 1960’s. It’s 2017 New Zealand! Sort your shit out! These poor humans shouldn’t have to suffer the prolonged discussion that is probably already ruining their mental health just because there is resistance within the topic politically.

I couldn’t care less about the views of religion because at the end of the day not only do these couples have lives but so too does the child who doesn’t deserve to be burdened with our sin-infused world. We’ll leave it at that. These legislators and policy makers should never be afraid of ethics. That it shouldn’t concern them too much that people are getting these procedures as a means of contraception. That although our medical system can’t afford to pay for the many thousands of abortions which take place each year, putting more of an emphasis on raising the awareness of safer sex, subsidising completely the price on rubbers and other means of contraception should take precedence.

If the government is taking the stance that they refuse to re-evaluate their current legislation regarding abortion then there must be a clear obligation by our government to offer more relief, not in the form of dishing out social workers to these people who are suffering but to actually give us a reason why they make these procedures difficult and why there is so much room for ethical interpretation. That there is clearly some existing disconnect between the system and the lives of our people if they would consider the practically barbaric process of having to suffer through a prolonged period of 25 days between a referral and an operation. Not to mention that a woman has to prove to two different doctors that she meets a list of requirements which include:

The crimes act of 1961 requires that the grounds of an abortion prior to 20 weeks gestation include:

  • Serious danger to her life.
  • Serious danger to her physical health.
  • Serious danger to her mental health.
  • Any form of incest or sexual relations with a guardian. (What the fuck?)
  • Mental subnormality.
  • Foetal Abnormality.

There are other factors which are obviously taken into account when a consultant approves of the abortion. The consultant may also consider:

  • If the guy is way older than the girl. “Extremes of age” lets not sugar coat it.
  • If there has been a sexual violation.

The question is that the consultant, doctor, has to be the one to decide what “serious” looks like. That in certain cases where the procedure has been rejected there have been ethical reasons why consultants have said no. For religious reasons. What kind of a world do we live in where we regard a religious ethical value over the life of a human being who is suffering from the disheartening decision to have an abortion. That some asshole who’s dumb enough to rack up a small mortgage student loan, suffered through years of social expectation just to earn a silly piece of paper that somehow gives them the right to refuse women of a decision based on money and ethics. No thank you. This is a messed up system, she has probably suffered mentally just to work up the courage to ask for help.

My childhood wasn’t all doom and gloom though. I was really lucky to be placed with a family who loved and adored me. Nurtured my wellbeing and have supported me ever since. There is not a day goes by where I am not reminded of the hidden miraculousness that I am where I am today. Had I have been raised by my biological parents I’m not sure that my current situation would be the same today. Even though I choose to be Christian I still strongly believe that loving yourself by making the decision that you know in yourself that having this child is not the right thing to do and that you know you’re not going to make a good parent, because some people aren’t let’s be honest. That I believe the process should be completely non-judgmental and that no person should be made to suffer through a system created by a government whose job it is to represent our voices. That if the people ask for their support that they provide a service that isn’t prolonged, that money is appropriately allocated for these procedures to occur and that if they needed somewhere to better appropriate their fund then they would aim it at promoting contraception by having free condoms and other contraceptives.

No person should be made to suffer just because the system is faulty. That a doctor doesn’t have the direct authority to say no but instead gives them medical advice on how the baby is looking, an area which they specifically studied for and not the role of a bloody philosopher with a degree in being Jesus himself. Unfortunately, we live in a country where some assholes decide to sexually assault women. The list of grounds in which a doctor, consultant, may consider but is not under any legal obligation to solely base their decision to approve an abortion includes sexual violation, or as previously adjusted from being termed rape.

It makes me sick to know that I live in a country where if a woman has been raped and becomes pregnant with that bastards child that it is possible that she might not be supported by our government. That a doctor can refuse her the procedure that she needs because he is not legally obligated to warrant an abortion even though she has been put through the most life degrading experiences any human could ever face. THIS HAS TO CHANGE. That even if a girl is taken advantage of by an older guy when she is a teenager, she can be put through her pregnancy because again, the two doctors can refuse her from the procedure simply because they are not obligated, by law, to provide any coverage because it is classed as an “extremeness of age.” That the only way she could argue her case is by explaining to a doctor that she was raped, that she has to relive that experience with somebody AGAIN just to outweigh the rulings of an outdated legislation enforced in 1961. She has to prove to two doctors that she is seriously affected both mentally and physically by a rape in which was committed against her, just to have a procedure based on a decision in which has ruined her life.

Now that we’ve heard Mana’s rant. Let’s reflect on how beautiful and precious life is. Because at the end of the day, positivity and optimism are the only mindsets which trump the intenseness. It is important to see above the clouds, that we reflect on the awesome moments where our mum or dad did something random like surprised you with something or embarrassed you in front of everybody. Those moments are the moments that are important to a child. When they tell you everything that happened and asked the “why is that” question three times until you cave and say “because it just is that way.” When they prod you in your sleep when they’ve had nightmares and need the shelter of your bed. Those times when you knock on the door and the tell you to piss off, but instead, you wait for their little teenage mood swing to glaze over. When they ask you for help with their student loan because they are crying out for your support and tell you they might do the dishes once. All of these experiences are rewards for your efforts. It’s love. And love is a beautiful thing.

To summarise this blog:

  • The parent is fully conscious of the importance that life is precious.
  • The system is a piece of shit. They need to change that if people are going to be supported in their life changing decisions.
  • Rape is disgusting.
  • Life is amazing.

Below are links to some incredibly important bits of information regarding abortion.

And that’s today’s epic chat. I’m sorry that it was so miserable, I promise that tomorrow’s blog will be a little bit more cheerful and a little less teary eyed. After all, we are all entitled to happiness. Regardless of how much the conversation hurts us.

Thanks for checking in!

Daily Blogs every day at 11:00 am NZT.

Blog 062 What Can We Take Out Of A TV Series?

20 Minute Read
SPOILER ALERT – Thirteen Reasons Why – TV Series plot exposure.

There’s something to be learnt in everything. Through our daily battles with finding answers to the many questions that never have spoken answers. Television shows offer us an alternate universe with a lot of life lessons which we can take onboard and grow from. Today’s chat is with regards to a TV series that I binge watched yesterday. Reflecting on the concept of television as a means of chilling out, as a means of entertainment. But what value does that chill time have?

I remember when I was a younger, sitting at home on a wintery Sundays morning. Sketching perspectives of my dream house whilst my mum would be writing her thesis in the lounge. She would always listen to Twilight in the background, so would I. For hours these series of movies would play and the entire time my eyes never watched the screen. Though my eyes never made contact with the screen, I could still rattle off the entire film’s plot, from the main characters all the way to the concept of the film. Now call me weird but this was always a way in which I learned things. Like being on a plane and only listening to a movie would your head pressed into the seat. Like doing something mundane like working out and listening to music. I find it’s easier to soak up a message when you’re doing something that requires little thought. In the case of watching Twilight at home, the thought processed is reversed. That I could draw a much better picture because I was focusing on how cool it would be to be a vampire. That the concept of a TV series on Netflix would be easily taken on board because we are only concerned about how much food we have left in the cupboard, that we are warm enough, have enough to drink.

I can’t speak for your views on learning something. But it seems to me that a lot can be garnered by watching a show. Our creative engine is sparked up. We wouldn’t be watching it if we thought it was trash. So what’s keeping us there is that we know we are gaining something through our interest in the show. That there is something we can gain from watching this show. That there is something that we invest interest into because we’re trying to learn something valuable to us. Whether that’s personal development or a reflection of a memory which we might regret, or if there is something intrinsic in our behaviour that we secretly want to satisfy, there is an important discussion to be had regarding what we are actually taking out of something mundane like watching a television show. From my point of view, there are specific goals in mind when a person watches a TV series. But one of the angles in which I’m particularly referring to is the human desire of seeking out what other people do behind closed doors. To get that voyeuristic fix from the perspective of a director who uses an attractive cast to portray social investments. Basically, to make people mess around with each other and then in their tangled world make them figure out a resolution, or to put it bluntly termed as social politics. We can invest in that because there are stories within these social politics that we can abstractly relate to.

But what if a director saw that as an opportunity? If he knew that people passively use Netflix as a way of seeing into the lives of others. If he recognised all of our guilty pleasures, set up this elaborate plot, and portrayed it in a way that resonates with our deepest values, that we all deserve to be treated its respect and that everybody deserves the attention of being loved. A casual movie night with the boys turns into an ethics lesson transfixed on exposing how childish we are. That in this passive way, a person we have never met, in an unknown location, a director, has made ripples in our lives right beneath our noses.

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Above fig.  WHATMANASEES Instagram

Now, this isn’t some English lesson that devises a cunning plan to make you believe that the colour of the decor in the opening scene reflects sadness or anything. But more of a whole picture thing. Out of my curiosity last Friday night when I became infatuated by a series called “Thirteen Reasons Why.” I didn’t know why it interested me so much because I’m usually the thriller/action genre type. I want to think but watching stuff get blown up is exciting too. I wanted to get to the bottom of this curiosity, wanted to know why we spend so long stuck behind these black mirror screens trying so hard to peer into somebody else perception of funny, or sad, or meaningful, or sentimental. For me, growing up has been so informed by the visions of these directors who teach us the relevance of various social issues that we don’t get taught in our schools, that we don’t get told by our parents. The kind of shit we only get told by our friends because they also watched last night’s episode of Game of Thrones. That in a weird sort of convoluted way we as people have made this odd form of magic that we can chill out on a cold wintery day and take an interest in.

Thirteen Reasons Why is a story about a girl who kills herself. Based on a novel written by the author Jay Asher, about a girl who is socially ridiculed by who school mates, is sexually abused, socially exposed and is ignored by her school. If you’re thinking to yourself that it sounds like another cliche story regarding teenage suicide then you’d be right. But isn’t that the point? From the authors perspective, they’ve taken the most basic case of teen suicide, something that we can all relate too, and have made a book about it. But no book ever written in the 21st Century can only cover something that ewe already know is a problem. There must be a plot to the book that encapsulates our attention, something that we didn’t expect to make us think about a concept that we are already aware of. To make any ripples in our lives the author had to think of a creative solution that would interest us, the readers.

Thirteen Reasons Why took its name because it was about a girl who killed herself and then left thirteen reasons why within thirteen different recordings on seven tapes either side. If you’re doing the math you’ll know that there are fourteen sides to seven tapes, go and watch it if you really want to know. In a strange but clever way, the entire sequence outlines thirteen different types of people who were all responsible for the death of the girl. Basically, the author came up with a way of making us all relate to the story. From the school cheerleader to the captain of the basketball team, to the school weirdo, even the school nobody. The author thought up this epic slammer that covers the most taboo concept of youth suicide, something that we normally bow our heads in condolences, and then ratifies this creative plan that identifies thirteen different kinds of personalities that identify with us, the people who worry more about how much popcorn is left in the bowl instead of a very real and very invisible illness that is concerning people all around us all the time.

But the realisation doesn’t stop there. This blog talks about the invisible something that we all gain from spending hours watching these TV series. Thirteen Reasons Why is my primary aim today because it’s a series that takes something completely taboo, through the ideology of an author. A guy who wanted to expose the entire idea of youth suicide and write a book that exposes the truth behind it. In a way that we can relate to by making thirteen personality types. This idea has somehow magically made its way into the hands of a directing guru, Brian Yorkey, who takes it a step further which I’ll talk about in just a second. Isn’t it amazing though, how we all have these gifts to create an idea in such a way that navigates through our social barriers, like the author who writes a story about a girl  who is tormented by her peers and reveals the various perceptions in 288 pages of  what is basically a rant about how shit we are as people for not realising. That it can be received by us, the reader, the viewer, the audience, simply because we were curious? But why were we curious in the first place? What made us scroll through Netflix and stop at this show? Was it the fact that it came up first in the new releases column? Or was it because Netflix actually put it at the forefront of their site because they knew it was an important drama that applied to the audience?

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Above fig.  WHATMANASEES Instagram

I can’t say why for sure. But being a guy, I could see that seeing a really attractive cast for starters might be a reason why, likewise for girls, but the gender stereotypes conversation is for another blog on a different day. Thirteen Reasons Why is directed by Brian Yorkey, who adapts the original novel to react to the different audience. He uses typical cinematography to outline the fact that we like to sexualise people because it makes us more interested in the film. But then he slams us by the realisation that rape culture is disgusting by using that component of the series as a means to sabotage our own interpretation of trivialising sexual abuse. It’s a big a sinister topic, but it’s masterminded in a way necessary to hear because it’s a very real thing and has very strong control over many people’s lives. I’m not going to mention how the screenplay producer visualised this, but what I will say is that this series delivers an important message regarding youth suicide and rape culture. That it delivers the message in a way in which we can feel disgusted by our participation of normalising rape culture and teen suicide by trivialising on it rather than actually doing squat to change it.

That is a really powerful message and it is something that I gained last Friday, couped up in my room while there was a party going on downstairs after the series being recommended by my awesome flatmate Lauren. I wasn’t able to take my eyes away from the screen, unlike Twilight. But the key message is that it made ripples, it made me notice the contrast between hearing about a person passing away due to “unnatural circumstances” out of the respect for their family. But it takes on a different approach where we can have a hard conversation in a way that is so passive, that strikes us out where we take invested interest in, like other peoples lives.

It then raises the question why it is completely inappropriate to allow the world to know when somebody commits suicide. It’s got to make you think that it’s important that we reflect on our part played in the process of somebody dying. That although we shouldn’t blame ourselves for somebody else’s death or sexual abuse, we should always be accountable for making sure that it never occurs in the future. That the grim reality is that suicide and rape occur every day. That it is a huge problem that we can’t beat around the bushes with. That if we’re going to talk about it then it needs to be a straight up, no bullshit conversation that people in power need to open up and get off their high horses about. That at a human level it’s just not good enough. There are no excuses, and it should never exist in the first place.

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It is amazing that something as mundane as watching Netflix can actually be a route for change. That in a climate where so many youths are stuck to their phones, hidden beneath the lids of their MacBooks, that it is such an important conversation to have. That although the show was portrayed in a very American setting, it is still applicable universally within every year level of our life.

Maybe that’s something you could take out of a TV series on Netflix, I’m sure that’s what I got from it. Admittedly, it’s not the kind of series that is typical for your everyday teenage melodrama, but at the end of the day, we all want to gain something from our Netflix and chill.

End.
This in regards to watching a series called Thirteen Reasons Why, if you would like a bit more of a plot synopsis then I would suggest visiting this link below to a well known critic who talks about the show in-depth and reflects on its key messages.

The Ringer – Critical review of Thirteen Reasons Why.

Asides from that this has been a really long afternoon chat! But it’s always easy when you have a passion for writing about it. Thanks for reading up guys i appreciate it. Tomorrows chat will be in regards to Abortion and then later in the week we’ll talk about student suicide. Watch this space.

And as always…
Thanks for checking in!

Blog 060 The Art of Letting Go – Part One

At five years old, my teacher told me that my creativity was endless. That my drawings were amazing, something she always let my parents know in my interviews. They were the first sparks that there was more to the story than another fleeting brown kid who’d probably never amount to anything tangible. Somebody invested in me and that was something which drove me to where I currently am. On a Saturday morning at 4:24 am stabbing my keyboard without a dash of alcohol on my lips for over a month. Creating this blog. This chat is to discuss my future career decisions. To raise the point that sometimes it is a more valuable lesson to let go of something you’ve clung to for re-assurances in such a deep way that you might refuse to ever let that go. To convince somebody out there struggling with a tough decision to lead with what is right and not by what you want to do.

When I was seven years old, our class was set an assignment to draw our dream house out of white chalk and black card. That stupid project stole my lunch because there was nothing stopping the intense effort being put into this little boys drawing. Looking at this drawing, another teacher commented, saying the work was something that exceeded pieces done by people years my senior, that one day I should consider becoming an Architect. That stupid lady. While remaining hugely grateful for the positive feedback what I would say is that she created this fire within me like Donald Trump who becomes so infatuated with his propaganda that he probably believes that he really is going to make America great again, that in Architecture I trust. I built such a strong belief that one day I would become an architect. It was the first ever memory I have of knowing what this creative job really meant.

Fast forward to high school where I learned that I hated physics with a passion. That I hated chemistry with a passion. So we could safely say that science is probably not the way to go. Then came the civil engineering phase, which was just as quickly phased out after I realized how bland and rational the job was. So then after a long arduous banter session throughout my years in high school, I finally graduated. Taking on a Bachelor of Architectural Studies. A three-year degree that covers all elements of the art as well as the specialization to become the very thing you wanted to become. Long story short it was all a series of events which slipped into place snugly.

What isn’t mentioned anywhere here is that I made the link that architecture was another way for snobby people to be even more materialistic. Whether that be families or businesses who weren’t happy to settle for cookie-cutter buildings and so that felt the urge to hire a guy, who never uses HB pencils, to sketch a few iterations down on a Moleskine notepad, stress over a CAD program for three weeks just to sell an idea that at the end of the day adds no value to a person’s qualities or contributes anything to somebody who struggles to put bread on the table. that at the end of the day the Architect is more concerned about font styles and digital rendering, than practicality and socialism.

I want to raise how hard it is to let go of things that seem so right. Making really tough decisions to move past career choices and allow yourself more room to grow and make mistakes elsewhere. To recognise the motives of different professions, weigh them up against other pathways and decide what you really want to do.

A bit of history, some readers may know that when I was eight months old I was taken away from my parents and put into the care of two amazing parents who would later adopt me as whangai, which is a Maori form of adoption that allows me to keep both parents. Being in child youth and family till the age of 12 gave me experience within a failed children’s ministry and it gave me a voice when it mattered the most. Two years ago I was given the opportunity to be a part of a new ministry for children. One that would be created and designed by a ministry with the advice of the voice of those who lived and were living in the system. Basically it was time for me to grow up and realise that I was a part of something bigger than anything I would ever accomplish in my entire career as being an architect. That I was confident no building, no convention centre, no reserve park for birds that I may design if I became a successful career would ever match the incredible empowerment that guaranteeing thousands of kids, who had also been taken away from their families, have a voice and that this country recognises the mistakes they have made.

“Ka Pu Te Ruha, Ka Hao Te Rangatahi: As the old net is cast aside, the new net goes fishing.”

This was the whakatauki, Maori proverb, that I used when opening the ceremonies of the new Ministry, Oranga Tamariki. It reflects on the shortcomings of a system that didn’t work but remembers the important structural networks within the system who put their heart and soul into making the previous system a safer place for kids. But it also reflects on the future network that would be rolled out in light of an old system. Perhaps this proverb is somehow relatable to my own career pathway. Policy was such a foreign concept of mine. Going from a world of creativity where the only restriction is how much lead is in a pencil, it was a different perspective to enter the world of governmental policy and the creation of legislation from a paper pushing position. In the hopes that I might be able to find problems within the mechanics of the system and work from the inside out. That at every corner, using my experience in the care system I would have a voice that sparks resistance from adults in positions of power so that they might learn that not every decision ought to be financially based, not every decision has to be unilateral and that the values of a child are kept at the cornerstone of every choice. Their voices matter most because they represent a sustainable future. And that is something that I can honestly stand for.

#watchthisspace

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 057 So Far… So Good? Two Months!

This is a reflection of my second consecutive month of blogging and how I have grown since that crazy midnight rush of just getting it done. There are not many things it can safely be said where growth occurs in such a small period of time. Growth is in many ways this awkward progression from making realizations that you might have been wrong about something and that only through consistent reflections can a change be noticed. In many ways, there have been lessons which have been taken on board over these previous blogs that have changed my processing of ideas. It’s not every day you can tell yourself that you’re proud of accomplishing something.

The last month has been a really busy period for me. From shifting to a new city and constructing a new schedule all the way to saying a speech in front of my countries Prime Minister in Maori, it’s been a month of sorts that’s for sure. From creating interviews with other really powerful advocates to marry my blog with experiences that have come to a close. To raising awareness for social anxieties. Talking about the most basic stuff ever and creating an epic rollercoaster ride out from it has shown me that there’s a story in everything. That there are lessons to be learned through everything.

My passion for blogging so far has been a collection of so many things that I value hugely and to be able to share them with you in thematic ways using different subjects has been really interesting to watch. I always perceived blogging to be this basic process of throwing words onto a page without realizing that there is so much variation that is possible using blogging as a tool to share experiences with other people. So many ideas popped up from it like creating a podcast, creating a mobile app that would increase the traffic on my site.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many people actually read each blog because from such a small period of working within this niche space has created my belief that there is always going to be an opportunity in reporting and blogging. That there are many avenues which are pursuable in the future beyond blogging, such as writing for a magazine such as Salient. Which is a student-based magazine that focuses on projected the voices of students who work hard to produce content which people will be interested in? The idea was sparked after a wet Thursday between lectures three weeks ago when I picked up a weekly Salient and read the words “opinion” orientated sideways. That almost everything written in a blog is an opinion which is very occasionally backed up with factual evidence. That what was written within an entity such as Salient magazine was actually no different to the expressive dialogues held within my blogs. So looking to continue writing in the future, Salient remains on my radar.

As for my message. Unlike going to church on a Sunday night, my sermons don’t generally portray a very clear thesis statement. It is always a process of writing without a plan because, in essence, that is creativity. When I came up with the idea of creating an interview with Tupua, one of the founding members of VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, I never could have imagined that my work would garner soo much support. I never imagined that a judge would later read the words pressed into this blog, it was an amazing moment.

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WHAT MANA SEES Facebook Page

The creation of a Facebook page was a new addition to the progress of this blog. It was a place where each blog would be posted without my mainstream media forum becoming cluttered with endless blogs regarding every single blog, it’s almost as bad as taking a photo of my food every day! – Those days are over, unfortunately. By creating a Facebook Page for the blog allowed me to access larger networks of people who might benefit from some of the information that I was writing about at the time. With my passions being in informing people about various ongoing situations nationally.

In the past month, there have been a few occasions where the blog was specifically aimed to raise opinions and cause people to listen to a little closer. After a conversation, it became more obvious that the blogs needed to be something that I would actually love to read, no matter how busy I might have been. That by creating content that was interesting ultimately drew the most people to view each blog. The number wasn’t important so much was the service. Spending hours each day trying to wave my magic wand into the air and create a piece that would deliver my message across to unsuspecting individuals was truly the most humbling experience for me. That by sharing my knowledge with people regardless of its validity actually helped me value my own opinion a lot more. This added confidence would let me write even more controversial stuff, e.g. Sex Before Marriage” and “Pride (LGBT).” These conversations were an immediate reflection of my growth and appreciation for people’s time. Those busy humans like my mother might not take any interest in a blog regarding what its like to live in Christchurch because they already knew. By adjusting to more serious issues such as homelessness, or student debt, would create a better discussion for a lot more people.

My experiences from outside fo the blog have influenced the way in which I have been writing. From random weekend trips up to The Coromandel Penninsula to rants about sleeping in remedying the fact that I was feeling sorry for myself, all help lead me back to a few basics. The love f my family is always my primary focus. Whenever I would sit and struggle to come up with a piece, the reminder that there is an entire family of amazing people who live in a place called ‘home’ would support me no matter what. My reflections have been able to grow me from the inside-out. There have been times of recognition this last month where there have been battles fought to destabilize this constant nagging of rejection and going back to when I was eight months old to figure out where the root source to many of my problems actually lie. To understanding how being left behind by my parents at eight months old shaped my entire persona into a stubbornly reluctant individual who always has to be right nearly all of the time.

These major shifts in perspectives have brought about a change in scenery that has done some wicked shit over these past few weeks. My relationship with myself has improved dramatically, although I’m still working on the sleep properly front, and the manage your time and love life episodes have been left a little worse for wear in some places I’m afraid. My blogging has done tremendous things for my relationship with my wonderful girlfriend though. We have flourished in ways simply unimaginable. So beautifully and it excites me inside to see where it’s all going in the future!

Writing blogs isn’t all rosy and fun though. Like all things, it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to be able to sit up at 2:00 am on a Thursday night reflecting in silence typing up a storm and actively enjoying every letter typed. In saying that I have to admit that I am a few days behind schedule simply down to the fact that some of the blogs have been harder to write than others. When I did my interview blog, I was simply blown away by how amazing the work was that I may have gone a bit far to suggest that the work is made even more elaborate. As this went on I began to realize that the blog was started to take priority over University. That’s when I stopped and checked myself out to make sure that I knew what I was doing this for.

Looking forward to the future is a massive opportunity to continue growing and gaining more support from various readers, which is pretty cool. Pouring more soul and work into answering some really tough questions coming up. My main focus over this next month will be to become more routine with how I blog and ensure that none of this is treated as a chore, but more like a hobby. Something I can do without even thinking about it. Hopefully, it will condition my brain so that who knows how many blogs I might make? 365 blogs? We shall see…

But what I can tell you is this. The work that I am doing makes me proud every time I press publish. There is so much work to be done, baby steps. Here’s to another jam-packed month full of blogging!!!

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 056 Why Public Policy?

Welcome to my blog! Today’s chat is a personal development story. Much in a reflection of my work as a youth advocate. For those who do not know my background, I study Architecture and public Policy. Here’s why…

During my time growing up, I was always so sure that Architecture was all that interested my skills set. It was always apparent to me that there was soo much excitement in the world of physical graphics and that it was the process that I wanted to be career married too. That when you grow up you’re only designed to do a certain skill set of jobs that probably only met a handful of real job criteria. Occasionally I would see people going through their last years at high school making the huge assumptions that they knew precisely what they were going into University to achieve and that they knew exactly what they were getting themselves into. I guess that’s nice, but we all know those people are full of shit we just hold them in a high regard and call them success stories.

Without getting into the statistics of how many students actually leave University with the degree that they originally intended on completing at the beginning. It is necessary to say that my support goes out to each and every student excelling in the field of their childhood dreams, that’s amazing. It’s actually hugely inspiring to see people going into what they originally planned on going into and then seeing that individual grow up into the career they set out to achieve. In many ways, it is like watching a marathon sprinter start at humble beginnings, work through every obstacle and then cross the finish line. it is something we can all be a part of and support.

But for many people, sometimes the story isn’t so linear. Sometimes you find your second wind to be the most momentous gain made. For me, that was the decision to chase after both Architecture and Public Policy. It all began when a social worker contacted my mum and asked if I might be interested in applying for a position as a youth advocate for the Minister of Social Development, who at the time was Minister Paula Bennett. The government took an interest in asking children and youth who had experienced a failed children’s ministry, how they might want their care experience to be. At the time I wasn’t nearly prepared for the huge mountain that was thrown in front of me so I took it on with full speed thinking it would be an easy accomplishment. Little did I know that it would seriously make waves with my life story, some of which I’ll outline for you below.

In 2015, I applied to be a part of the newly formed children’s advocacy team who would oversee changes made within a proposed children’s ministry. After being unsuccessful in my original application, I was offered the opportunity to be a part of something more vital, which was the focus groups that would occur all over New Zealand hosting children all over the country who had experienced the failures of Child Youth and Family, the previous children’s ministry, to help target the main problems our government faced. Sitting amongst these other kids who had experienced more pain, more suffering, and more neglect than any amount any child should ever receive, I began to learn that their pain was not dissimilar from my pain. That these kids had something in common with me and that was they were ripped out of their families. That these kids had been placed into homes without being told why, without being given the opportunity of choices based on beliefs or cultural significance. They had literally been shit on by a system that did not work.

This is not a blog aimed at upholding the values of government but is equally uninterested in the excuses of families to not be able to look after their children. There was very clearly mistakes on both sides, both systemically as well as socially, from an adult’s perspective. The truth was that none of the children in that focus group, including myself, knew that we had any rights available to us under the constitution. Not one child knew exactly why they were taken away from their parents, some of whom were nearly 17 years of age, had been informed that they had a right to ask for their information be given to them. It didn’t breed change in my direction though. It was a shock to my life plan, definitely.

In 2016, I was re-approached by the office of the children’s commissioner, who was commissioned by the Minister of Social Development, the then and now, honourable Anne Tolley, regarding a second youth advocacy panel who would be appointed to go through and refine all of the work the previous panel had enforced. After an immediate yes, the following three months led up to my first meeting. Not knowing what to expect from the entire situation, not knowing how to study, what I was supposed to know. I went in naive to the fact that I was going to be conducting a service that would be vital for the lives of thousands of children all over my country. The first day of working with my advocacy group I learned all about the people that I was working with. Their incredible stories helped me appreciate how retarded our governing system truly was. My experience within the system was for lack of a better expression, almost perfect. But the word ‘almost’ to entail that it was still not good enough. My first day working as a youth advocate I didn’t sleep. Being slapped in the face by statistics that the majority of kids in care were of my own ethnicity, Maori, and that so many of them committed suicide, were victims of sexual abuse below the age of 5, that these kids would likely never become a functioning adult because of intergenerational poverty made me upset beyond the stage where I was able to carry on with my own selfish desire to become a guy who designed cubes for really rich people an architect. That I had to make a difference in one place, where I knew was to advocate for the injustices that had happened to these kids, and do so in the biggest way imaginable, to speak to those in power.

On the second day of my role as a youth advocate, I met the wonderful Minister Anne Tolley on the fifth floor of parliament. After being informed by The Children’s Commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft, that the new system would be called “The Ministry for Vulnerable Children” my heart sank. So it was the first thing I brought up when the minister asked us what she could do better. While there are still confidentiality agreements between myself and the conversations had within my role in government, there is no legislation that prevents freedom of expression. So fuck off. I was depressed by the notion that the new ministry emphasised the importance that these children be put into a box simply because they received funding for a situation, through no fault of their own, they find themselves in. That it was through our cabinet that this name was decided and that the minister herself felt the need to defend the name even though in her eyes it was visible for all to see that she herself did not agree with it.

Politics is a fickle world. It is twisted and warped by the hierarchy that exists because every member of parliament is frightened by the idea that their voices may be quelled if they fail to win the popularity contest, the vote. I learnt that this is a very real problem through my own experiences working within the ministry. That their needs to be a voice that persists that is un-manipulable. That is incorruptible. Somebody who exists to tell the story from the bottom of the food chain in the mot “vulnerable” of beginnings who can say, from an educated position, that they know what’s up. Over the period of a year, I had many dealings with the creation of the children’s ministry. It was shaped and moulded in a way that made adults at every single step of the process question their entire motives for what they were actually doing.

It is true! There are many people working within the public sector of the government who genuinely care about their jobs. So many who actively pursue the rights of children as being their primary concern for working on a boat that they know is sinking from every capacity. Although I met so many people who really knew how to make shit happen, unfortunately, there were so many who were led by conceptual designs made by other adults who were looking for patch job fix ups rather than complete and utter overhauls of a system that everybody knows sucked shit historically. So although their hearts were in the right place. It was their work and their experience that always would have meant that their result wouldn’t have been quite what was necessary. The biggest changes always occurred where the voices of experienced people, in this case, were the voices of care experienced children, that actually provided the necessary clarification that led to the ultimate change necessary.

There is a point where all of us reach that we can no longer carry on telling ourselves that we shouldn’t run with an idea. That when something is so abundantly clear to us that we should consider seriously pursuing, it is probably worth looking over again. It wasn’t long before I applied for a degree majoring in Public Policy. The decision informed by the knowledge that Policy was another word for rules. Rules which affect people. Rules that if they aren’t designed correctly make the little guy, in this case, a literal little guy, somebody else’s bitch. That my skills were the art of the pen. The art of sitting behind a desk and creating waves, that public speaking was a second gift that I possessed. That by sitting a degree in public policy would give me background skills in government would give me a detailed understanding of how the rat race works. So that one day I might be able to work from within the ministry and make everyone accountable for the rules in which they make. It’s a start in the right direction, right?

In the words of the joker. “It’s all apart of the plan.”

Below is a link to my interview with the media regarding the coverage of the launch of Oranga Tamariki.

My interview on Stuff

Below is the link to the VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai interviews with the Youth’s who made it all happen.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai. Our Rights

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 055 Children of New Zealand Vulnerable No Longer – Part Two

In conjunction with the release of the well-informed Ministry, Oranga Tamariki comes the privately funded care and advocacy service, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai. That provides children with another advocate where they are not sufficiently being listened to or being consulted within the ministry. The idea was proposed at a dinner regarding philanthropic support, governmental support, judiciary support and most significantly the support of care and experienced children. It was set out so that the children of tomorrow, or in actuality it is the children of today, would be able to benefit from the knowledge that no budget cut, no policy change, no political shit storm would change the nature of the advocacy service. that most importantly, the voices of young people would remain the highest priority. That in itself is an incredible thing.

Last Saturday, the 1st of April 2017, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai was launched in Auckland, New Zealand, at a privately owned venue called Woah! Studios. Which I won’t go into too much detail symbolically but it is important to mention that it was started by a man who had this crazy idea to transform a broken down warehouse into an incredible landscape architecture with a functioning auditorium that could seat a few hundred people. Analogically, it could be compared to VOYCE, as being something that has transitioned from being a broken down system and taken into becoming something beautiful, something with momentum and something with a huge capacity and most importantly function.

The launching of VOYCE –  Whakarongo Mai means that where the Ministry for Vulnerable Children fails to act within its duties to keep the interests of the child at the centre of everything, they can be disputed by law. Part of the process of creating the new advocacy service was designed in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Development. that it was recognition from a governmental point of view that as a system they historically have not done enough to protect the interests of thousands of children in care. That the previous organisation, Child Youth and Family, failed on many occasions to deliver a service that was designed with children at the centre. That the previous system introduced time and time again these patch job excuses, 14 times to be exact over a period of 20 years, rather than stepping down from the horse, recognising that there are significant problems that need to be dealt with from an overhauled perspective, giving the reigns back to the people, as a democracy you would expect that sort of provision in the first damn place, and then finally being consistent and transparent in the service they are providing thousands of children in care.

It’s incredible to see that after such a long time ministers and people in authoritative positions have failed to see how blatantly obvious our problems as a country actually are. That power and money time and time again have been considered more important than human life. That we as a nation have one of the worst track records in the developed world for child abuse both sexually and circumstantially. That as a people we must take responsibility forever over the life interests of our youths in the care of oranga Tamariki. This is the call to arms that has been sent out from last Saturday. That every child under the care of the new Ministry, Oranga Tamariki, be hailed as one of the most significant pieces of change ever made in New Zealand history.

A bit of NZ history. In the early 20th Century, NZ was the first country in the world to allow women voting powers within their elections, then there was the recognition of cultural significance by making Maori officially recognised as one of our national languages, then there was the implication of legalising gay marriage in 2013 which inspired other countries to follow suit, now finally is the implication of a ministry designed for kids, by kids with an advocacy service that returns the Mana of a child back to the child. Mana, meaning power/authority over one’s life. That as a country we are leading the path to kicking ass when it comes to not only our scenery but by recognising that we have a huge problem with looking after our kids. The new advocacy service provides a culmination of years of hard work from amazing people within the new organisation, to the amazing commitments made by philanthropic and corporate entities. Their involvement in the process is truly incredible.

It’s funny that we talk about businesses having a major stake in the procurement of the new advocacy service. It sparks a light in the eyes of right-handed conservatists who think that these businesses have an interest only in profiting from the sustainable image of publicly showing that they care about children. But they do care. In the last few years, these corporations have come to grips with the recognition that there is more to business than money. That their investment in children sparks a trust that encourages leadership development for tomorrow’s voices.

When I took part in a hackathon last year, aimed at the research and creation of a digital platform that children within the care of Oranga Tamariki would be able to connect with the people behind VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai. I was placed in an environment of mixed opinions. Some people were aware of the changes to the ministry, others not so much. It was a huge challenge to many who were there from the various tech departments who had the right heart for the job but didn’t hold the necessary knowledge to be able to tackle such a massive issue, giving a clear path for children in care to be able to have a voice. It was a huge learning kerb for me personally because it meant that I had to be a dynamic part of the change giving my accounts to these people in order to expose the severity of misguided opinions. That the most important thing was knowing that some people, while they themselves are really educated in the normal way of understanding kids in care, that the whole normality was actually the thing in question. That the normativity that had been prescribed to the old ministries way of dealing with things was completely out-dated and utterly misguided. That the next was to finding a positive medium, and that was a huge eye-opener for everybody at the hackathon which was truly a blessing in disguise for me to be a part of.

 

If we can imagine, that in 20 years, that there are no children in the care of Oranga Tamariki. I just want to point out that this is completely and utterly beautiful. This was the goal set out by the new chief executive of Oranga Tamariki, Grainne Moss. Whose primary target was understanding the needs of young people in care and pro-actively creating a New Zealand without any children in care? That is a pretty fascinating reality. The most impressive part about the entire idea is that with the new ministry, Oranga Tamariki, and the new care advocacy service VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai operating in a functional way, that this idea can seriously become a reality, to a bare minimum take the number of kids in care down from being 5500 all the way down to less than 50. Then that is something I can be proud to have been a part of.

End.

Below is the link to the VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai interviews with the Youth’s who made it all happen.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai. Our Rights

Blog 048 What is Architecture – Part Two 

By Mana Williams.  20 Minutes.

It’s such a massive topic. The idea of architecture is a really broadly described term that so often people really wonder what an architect does and what architecture is. Usually, the perception is that architecture is a building and an architect is somebody who designs the thing. But today’s chat we’ll look at how it is so much more than just a sketchbook and a few clunky computer programs, in the hopes that it clarifies to potential architecture students to be aware of what it is and know the road they’re going down, in a non-university like propagandised way.

Let’s get a few things sorted. The first blog chat around architecture (Part One) talks about architecture being a place custom made for a particular circumstance. Designed as a space that could be reflected in its owner or at the very least is tailored to represent a large brand or family name. We also discussed how significant it is that we understand the idea of Turangawaewae or a place where I stand. Architecture could be a place that holds memories for you. Somewhere you could consider as being a special place, a place you go to when you need some reassurances.

So clearly there’s a lot of answers and not a lot of explaining going on, right?

In today’s talk, I’ll narrow it down to how architecture is used as a vehicle for companies to shine out and the similarities between individual ownership and how people act in not many different ways from these corporate entities. In the hopes that a student is very clear about what they are studying and how they understand their market so that they go in with their eyes wide open.

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Above fig.  WHATMANASEES Instagram

My Story.

But to do that we will need a bit of context because everyone loves to facts check. Well first and foremost. I am a second-year landscape architecture student looking at double majoring in both architecture and public policy. It’s quite an odd mixture, but that’s because I’m not your usual lolly. Last year I battled with the thought that maybe all of this architecture work doesn’t really do much in terms of focusing on what matters, like people, family and friends and some of the wider impacts that policy creates.

So that’s me… A self-fueled rocket ship here to take you up and away from the rubbish that other students and the university bubble will tell you.

Money and power are very correlated. Architecture is a way for businesses to showcase the magnificent power that they have in a physical model, in a functioning eco-system of staff, clients and their brand. To create a space that identifies their values and markets their business.

There is also a niche market for people to design homes around the basis of creating structures that they might be able to love. They can also use architecture to refurbish a space and mould it in a way that maintains the existing structure. To be fair, this was my childhood dream. To become an architect and design my own home. I even knew what it was going to look like.

While it’s really cool to aspire to have that sort of dream, to dream in those sorts of ways. There is more to life than a lust for a well-sketched wall bounded mortgage. My challenge to you is to think downgrade. Think about becoming a person who understands and is actively aware on the small details such as there is a massive social decline in the number of homes actually available.

Architecture is historically a profession that benefits privileged people. People with a lot of money to accommodate their grand ideas and their huge aspirations, not dissimilar to the likes of mine and yours. But does that really warrant a three storied house with five bedrooms and three garages at the top of a lofty mountain? Not really…

Architecture is a process designed to benefit people with a lot of money to do frivolous tasks like design massive outdoor water features, a mezzanine floor, a granite entranceway. I’m happy that you want to be an architect, go you. But I employ you to see a better use for that money. To make a change in the way your client thinks, after all, that is your job.

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Above fig.  WHATMANASEES Instagram

A quick crash course on the Architectural process.

An architect starts by meeting the client, finding out what they like, what they want, how much money they have to complete their desired project etc.

You then, as an architect, take that idea away into your little vault called a studio and come up with a million creative ingredients and produce a couple of iterations.

You go back to the client and discuss the concepts you’ve come up with. They tell you to make it better by pouring more and more money into it. They encourage development and refinement.

You go away and think hard about how to make the concepts better so you develop the ideas into a refined module. You then go back to the client again with a module in the hopes that they might buy the idea off of you.

Basically, the client has you by the short and curlies through the entire process. Or do they? In University they tell you not to stop at a basic concept but to think outside of the box. They imply that it’s significant for you to be using ideas that nobody has ever done before.

How many people downgrade and make the call to say that a building doesn’t need to exist but that this money is better spent on helping world vision extend their help of the billions of people living below the poverty line?

 

Above Source: Change, World Vision, 2017.

What I’m getting at here is that there are more important issues that need solving before we come up with an attractive solution to beautify an ugly building or idealise a brand or family home. 


the numbers don’t lie. Society is honestly doing piss all to make any tremendous change in how poverty affects the world’s kids. We can quite easily convince ourselves that it isn’t our problem, that it’s not our concern. But can you stop being so self-centered?

The truth is that architects have become passive authors who are content being somebodies bitch. Instead of standing up for themselves and those around them. They allow the client to rule the way they operate and rule the decisions they make because they are afraid to be put out of work. That’s the price of change, its a call to arms to look through the various social expectations and lay down the ethics that a person doesn’t need a ten thousand dollar Eames chair in their unused living room, or they don’t need a two-meter extension to their cantilevered bedroom balcony.

IT IS THE BIGGEST FORM OF MATERIALISM  IMAGINABLE. This is not dissimilar from most other professions, and although it’s cool that some people really do take a genuine interest in the various advocacies of major community led projects. It’s just not enough.

VOYCE-Whakarongo-Mai-logo

Above is the branding for the new advocacy service, VOYCE, which speaks out for the 36000 children in New Zealand who are in the process of or have already been taken away from their families. So it’s not impossible. To actually be a part of any change you do need money, true, but you also need a strategy. Something that can be utilised in order to be functional. VOYCE is mostly led by people who have been in the care system and who have experience rather than qualifications. This makes their cause better managed and more prepared for whatever shit storm unfolds over the period of time that it is operational. VOYCE in itself will grow to be the largest advocacy service specifically designed to speak out for children who are displaced simply so that they can feel the basic rights of care and protection, something that most of us have had or at the very least experienced.

This is an example of people who have taken action to make the change, and it’s being released this Saturday. The reason why I exemplify it here is because this advocacy service is led by people and organisations such as VODAFONE. These entities set a good example by doing this sort of work because they identify the elephant in the room which is that there are always bigger problems that we are failing to solve.

What is the one thing that sets any Architect apart from the rest? 

In a business or a design firm, what makes an architect shine is their experience. Because experience provides creative opportunity. If you had all of the tools in the world like every other architect, the only variation is creativity. When you mix two experiences to fix a certain situation, you are being creative. The better you are and the more hard work you apply, the better the result and the better the solution.

The challenge I’m setting is to use your wealth of experiences to create a solution that fixes the problem of social inequality. To build your designs with the pre-determination that you’re not going to design something that benefits the whims of an every day A-list celebrity. That you won’t buy into these fancy concepts which shit on the everyday person. That you won’t build a solution for a business just to show off how much money they have. But instead will take a cause, and literally pour the inspiration into fixing that problem in a spacial dimension. Then present that to your client, and give them a lecture on how fucking disgusting they are for implicating a material lifestyle just to accomplish domination over a neighbourhood.

“When you take a Trump sign and slap it onto a building, it becomes a Trump tower.”
– Me.

End.




At the end of the day, it’s your career, I can respect that. I hope this blog has changed your perspective of Architecture and that you re-evaluate the robotic nature of answering to a set eco-system. And as always!

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 043 What Is Passion?

By Mana Williams Eade    10 Minutes

I must admit that I am really tired from completing yesterday’s blog. Only now is it starting to hit me that this mammoth attempt to blog for 100 days straight is really really hard work. But if you’re passionate about something, it should never seem difficult, right?

Today’s chat is a quick reflection of how I got into writing and is much less intense than yesterday’s talk. I need to stress that writing is not my passion, my passion is understanding people at a really deep level that I can learn from, writing is my best skill. In today’s climate, the art of the pen (or keyboard) has become the way to make a significant difference. The international language of which people speak. Luckily for me, I was already really good at analytical thinking and was already very creative in my writing abilities.

So What Is Passion? 

From my point of view, it’s the drive to finish something even though nobody but yourself is asking you to. It’s the ability to bike up the steepest hill alone and suffer for no apparent reason. It’s what makes some people shine by themselves when they’re doing something they are passionate about. Try and recall the last time you finished a project from your own steam. A project that wasn’t being marked and wasn’t being judged by nobody but yourself. Did you feel proud when you did it?

Whenever I feel proud of something positive it immediately reinforces that habit as being good in the long term. But it’s not always good that sometimes people are passionate about something because they experienced defeat. Trying to mend certain bridges when times were tougher. I guess that can be considered as being an advocate. Somebody who can provide advice on systems that they have experienced slip-ups in. Somebody who has experienced the trauma of a moment and wishes nobody the same level of pain.

From time to time I run into people who have circumstantial passion. The kind of person who goes way further than just to ask if you’re okay. The person that would wait up for you at midnight after your relationship fell apart with a cup of tea in hand. The type of person who grows inside by helping others avoid the same shit they had to go through. The type of person who will answer the calls will come crash at yours and be the loudest advocate for children on the face of the earth. These people have passion too.
What Is Passion In My Eyes? 

For me, passion is being able to teach someone about the love and affection of family. Passionate about social growth, to be able to learn empty your cup, stop being a stubborn b***h and actually be willing to take on the advice of others.

Did you see the featured image at the top of this chat? Of course, that’s why you came here in the first place! I love my dog, his name is Boxer. Not because of the breed but because dad named him after his car’s engine, the Boxer… I know, how romantic… But my dog is a part of my family. Home-life is something that I’m really passionate about advocating for. Because love is grounding. It shares insight into how we can be there for each other, how we can learn to understand a difference of opinion to find a common view. Because I was smothered in love by my aunt, who is my adoptive mum, I was able to receive all of this precious insight into how important family is. Mum probably doesn’t even know to what extent these lessons do for kids. But for me, this is what passion is.

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Build It And They Will Come.

Take this stand of avocados for instance. There is no cheeky avocado holding tray beneath this pyramid of precision.  Do something that makes you feel valued. You don’t have to listen to the shit of others to tell you what you can and cannot do, within the parameters of the law let’s not be archaic here.

For me, passion is a huge motivator for all of this work. I love helping people recognize when they are being lazy, I guess in the small steps of this journey still but overall it’s all about the process of reaching 100 days. Until that day, passionately waiting. 






This is today’s small chat. Am still resting from the weekend’s massive effort. But I am so thankful for each chat and each reader so thank you again!

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 042! Whakarongo Mai.

By Mana Williams Eade   30 Minutes

This Interview and Discussion was made by the youth of today for the youth of tomorrow.


Today’s chat is a reality check
. Today’s chat is about the creation of a new advocacy service that speaks for the voices of New Zealand’s children. That holds New Zealand collectively responsible for the protection and wellbeing of our children. Today, I interview another ministerial youth advocate and one of the founding members and trustees of the new non-governmental organization (NGO) VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, Tupua Urlich. This whole chat is based on the awareness to, and the celebration of what will be one of the largest advocacy services in the world.

A bit of history…

New Zealand has a population of 4.471 Million people and covers an area of 268,021 km² which is slightly bigger than the United Kingdom which has a population of 64 million people. There are more vending machines in Japan than there are people in New Zealand. So then this begs the question, why the heck do we have 5500 vulnerable taonga currently in our child welfare system? It’s completely and utterly disgusting. For those of you who do not know what taonga means, it is a Maori reference to a highly prized resource or item, something with huge significance. In reference to the children of New Zealand, they represent tomorrow’s lawyers, tomorrow’s voices, they represent tomorrow, which is today’s future.

The Ministry of Social Development for years has been grappling with this notion of creating an effective system that is obligated to look after and protect vulnerable children within New Zealand. They have made fourteen attempts to improve, refine and shape a better system that looks after our kids. But they haven’t nearly done enough because there shouldn’t be any kids in care at all! Even from a systematic point of view. The number is so small it should have been remedied twenty years ago. In a perfect world, parents would be complaining that they need a respite from their kids because they are so happy raiding the cupboards, drawing on the walls and suffocating their parents with love. But the reality is, that thousands of children have been taken away from their parents, ripped out of their communities from people they knew and loved, and are suffering from psychological and emotional trauma. This has got to end. The first step to recovering a functioning system was designed not too long ago by the ministry of Social Development and named Oranga Tamariki. It is a child-centered ministry that was designed with the advice of youth within New Zealand to make sure that it was a system that actually gave kids what they needed to grow and develop in a New Zealand that puts aside its shit and puts the needs of kids first. Something that can be celebrated.

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So what are we looking at today?

Today’s chat hosts a different spin on things, I will be interviewing the awesome Tupua Urlich and we will be talking about the first real and tangible opportunity to really make a massive change in our countries children’s lives with a new advocacy service called VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai.





THE KORERO – Discussion

What is my experience with youth advocacy? – By Mana

My name is Mana Williams Eade, I’m a nineteen-year-old human being that cares. I grew up in the foster care system from the age of 8 months old, was raised by my aunt and step dad and became whangai at the age of 12. From there I excelled in school and clearly loved my writing and I now study Architecture and Public Policy at Victoria University. I was appointed to be a part of a seven-member advocacy panel that we named Te Whanau Aroha, which allowed me to voice my opinions to people who were listening. Since then I have experienced these huge efforts like Oranga Tamariki and the new Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft that have created humongous change in a short period of time. Some of my involvement with VOYCE included creating a digital platform that youth would be able to access and connect with using their new advocacy service, as well as doing video interviews for their upcoming website that launches on April the first. I’ve also started my own daily blog just talking about stuff that really bugs me and raising awareness for social stuff that matters, like VOYCE.

This discussion, however, is not only about my opinion through my experience but includes the voice of my friend Tupua Urlich. Here is his story…

“Diamond in the rough.” – By Tupua

A diamond in the rough would be the best way to describe my childhood. through the oppression and isolation, I learned to dream. For dreaming was my only escape from the pain and heartache of my childhood. Isolated and lost in a system of statistics, a system of abuse. Through my dreams, I imagined the unique gift to see the faint light in times of dark and sorrow my dreams became who I was in my mind. So a few things to identify me, I left my home, I left my family and everything I knew before I had even started school. The only place that I was accepted was in my dreams. those pressures around me, they gave me a precious retreat at no risk of ever being defected. The sad thing is, I’m not the only diamond in the rough.

“Adolescent truth.”

Like all teens, I thought I knew it all. The truth is I knew what I had to know about this world. My dreams reminded me of my escape or like a camera when it comes back into focus, the reality was clear. The world I had been raised in was far from a safe place. The countless beatings and abuse, darkness was coming through. Or the weight of 10,000 dark memories weighing me down, my soul finally collapsed under the immense weight and pressure. Now I needed an enemy to blame for my never ending pain. All along I was the only one they were angry at, I was the one they would beat, I was the one they would move time and time again. Nobody wanted me. With that realization, depression kicked in. I was fighting this battle with a broken sword, a weak shield and worst of all no hope, no belief that I ever had the chance of victory.

“Adulthood on the horizon”

Sometimes things just come into view. As I walked through a painful world I came to a place where I could see the future. Adulthood was emerging, I wasn’t ready. I never had the chance to be a child. The pain of the past hurt more than ever. Feeling hopeless and unworthy I attempted suicide. When that didn’t work I knew I didn’t have it in me, so I self-harmed. As a desperate plea for mercy, not attention like they would suggest. The truth was I was on my own and I had never been enough for myself. When I looked in the mirror I saw the lifeless defeated young man, then it hit me. Young, Man. My childhood was over, it was too late for me. I had revealed the true enemy now, but it wasn’t me. In this world, where battles are won by the pen, I had to change what that pen was writing for children and young people like me. I could heal through healing those who understood and experienced my pain. There is hope. Now, I have the courage.

“Courage is a feeling, and it’s very hard to describe a feeling in a few words.”

Name – Tupua Urlich
Role – Youth Advocate, Founding Member and Trustee of VOYCE.

It’s important that we reflect on these two hugely different opinions. I was fortunate enough to be cared for in a way that gave me the opportunity to understand the pen. Understand how I can manipulate it to advocate for those who do not have a voice. Where my friend Tupua came from a diversely different background and can tell his story through his experience. Together we bring this uniquely significant discussion about VOYCE to raised it up in a way that can never be brought down into the clutches of failure with the likes of Child Youth and Family. So I really hope you enjoy this wee chat below here. Thanks for reading.
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M – Mana
T – Tupua

M – What is VOYCE Whakarongo Mai?

T “VOYCE Whakarongo Mai is a Connection and Advocacy Service for children in care.”

M – How does VOYCE Whakarongo Mai, differ from other agencies like Child Youth and Family and Oranga Tamariki?

T “VOYCE Whakarongo Mai isn’t a care and protection agency it’s a rights organization. Oranga Tamariki has an obligation to look after and cater for the needs of young people who can’t live at home in New Zealand. VOYCE is more of a monitoring system you could say, Te Oranga Tamariki has an obligation to work transparently with VOYCE-Whakarongo Mai. There are laws binding them to Te Oranga Tamariki.”

M – Is VOYCE Whakarongo Mai a privately ran NGO?

T “Partly, VOYCE is funded by the government but is also a privately funded organizational philanthropy.”

M- Which corporations fund VOYCE Whakarongo Mai?

T “So there’s the TODD Foundation, Tindall Foundation, Foundation North and VODAFONE…”

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M – So what interest does a corporation like VODAFONE have with the care and protection of our kids in New Zealand?

T “There was a philanthropic meeting held in Ponsonby, Auckland, a couple of years ago. These big corporations like VODAFONE are very socially conscious and so they wanted to know what were some problems and some key solutions {in New Zealand} that they could help make possible. At every table, there was a member of Parliament, a Judge or a lawyer, a philanthropic member, and a young person etc. All of the different tables pitched ideas, we pitched the idea of a care and connection advocacy service and we won, which gave us funding and resources.”

M – So how would a child get in touch with VOYCE?

T “If you’re in Te Oranga Tamariki, you’re automatically enrolled with VOYCE Whakarongo Mai. So there’s no opt-in it’s an automatic service.”

M – That’s awesome because it allows kids without internet access to still be involved.

T “Some of the issues around Social Media is that many kids are banned from using social media as a utility to run away and get up to to all sorts of things.”

M – What is the capacity for VOYCE when it first rolls out?

T “We’re at early stages, but the figure will increasingly grow as the organization develops.”

M – We know that there are 5500 kids currently in the care and protection system but what is commonly missed is that there are approximately 30,000 children in the in-between stage. I guess a question could be if VOYCE caters for the wider population of kids in the system?

T “Wherever there is an Oranga Tamariki office, there will be a VOYCE office too. To ensure that all young people in the state have an advocate and have a connection service. So it’s really about making the service accessible and making the staff grow as the task calls for it.”

M – You said yesterday that there will be a base in Auckland?

T “The national Office will be in Auckland, and that opens on the 1st of April. When VOYCE opens in April they will start small and grow over time. Ensuring they have the right staff in the different roles. This will follow suit in other regions.”

M – How does VOYCE compare with advocacy services around the world?

T “At capacity, it will be the biggest connection advocacy service in the world.” 

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“Without the voice of experience, we’re not going to have any real change.” – Tupua.

“I am delighted that, for the first time, young people in care in New Zealand are to have an independent advocacy service to represent them,” – Minister Anne Tolley.




At the end of the day, what matters is that a child can be loved and cared for by their family. To be cherished and adored by those around them. The very least that we can do as a people is to advocate for their voices. The bare minimum people can do collectively as New Zealanders, as people, is to not treat these kids like damaged goods, but to simply treat them as taonga.




This is today’s chat. Thank you for being a part of the talk, I just want to extend thanks to Tupua for his incredible insight into advocacy services, it was really good to have him present in this korero. April the first! The day it all changes. And as always…

Thanks for checking in…

Blog 039 Apartment living isn’t home

By Mana Williams

Today’s chat is much more informal, we’ll look into what makes home so special, and why city living tends to take a lot away from the genuine character building stuff that hard work maintenance jobs around the home facilitate. This is probably a chat my mum would really love, but I’m not going to talk about the weather of Wellington being terrible so that optimism can take a seat. Towards the other side of this brief chat is a small discussion piece that asks for some feedback and looks at asking you for your feedback.

So how does city living shape up against living at home?

Although your clothes are still the same, the days still have as many hours and the familiar faces you know as friends remain the same. The idea of flatting in a city environment is nothing like living at home. Mum’s amazing pancakes on the Sunday morning, Dad’s terrible dad jokes and pet smells, all make home this sanctuary for family. With the likes of apartment living being this really intense consistent monotoned sound of car tyres on the freeway, or the midnight road sweepers, or the emergency sirens at 5 am. The livelihood of flatting in the city tends to be really compact and bustling. Living in a city apartment styled complex is really noisy during the weekends too with flat parties going on like no tomorrow. With the large majority of teens living in the same sort of neighbouring areas due to rent costs as well as the vicinity to University campuses, it can be pretty communal at times too. With friends flocking to the one house with the television set or the one flat with the crazy party atmospheres or the flat with the best cook etc. Relative to home living, the closeness to your friends place can be markedly closer and is really useful you need to borrow a toaster or iron your shirts. It also gives you close vicinity to your girlfriends place. The environment created by the noisiness is really full on at times and for some people frustrating if they have classes in the morning or go to a different university. When it comes to the cost of living within a city atmosphere, the costs of essentials and the cost of food greatly differs,  depending on where you I’ve at home or the whereabouts of where your city flat is, for me I know that the majority of convenience stores and even supermarkets can be really expensive. This is obviously because well… where else are you going to get your milk from? In comparison to having to put up with the noisiness and the expenses of living within a city based flat setup to the warm, pet smelling comforts of home, flatting does come second best.

So what’s good about flatting in the city?

With flatting responsibilities comes more independence, which is pretty good right? The ability to be able to go and buy as much junk food you want, and it only being around the corner. It’s pretty great being able do almost whatever and it not having some serious consequences that your parents would probably frown on. The ability to be able to get really happy with your friends, be pretty much as noisy as you’d like before midnight everyday. The ability to be able to go out at night on the longest walk imaginable and not get told off when you got home at 4 am. The ability to have you music playing as loud as you’d like without any significant telling offs the list goes on. There’s also a huge opportunity for self growth and individual development. When you have to put up with your own nonsense after a period of time it becomes easier to get accustomed to certain things about yourself that you can’t be bothered mustering up all of the energy to fix it just for someone else’s benefit. Things like fashion, food expectation, and certain unbearable emotions can fall by the way side.

So there’s definitely a huge compromise made when going to live in a flatting situation instead of the comforts of home. Whether that be because you are having to get up early in the morning or if you really miss mum and dad and need some emotional support, living in an city flatting situation can have it’s downsides.




Today’s chat is very short but this is so that I can continue to open it up to conversation. Tomorrow’s blog will be really intense so look forward to that. Thank you for reading and as always…

Thanks for checking in…

Daily Blog: 11:00 pm NZT

Blog 036 Failure to Me

By Mana Williams  15 Minutes

Let’s stop real quick and think about failure and what it actually means to fail from my point of view. Think about what it does to us and how it affects our lives for a second. Take time out from our heavy Monday to reflect again because Saturday and Sunday are not the only day’s of the week we need to stop and think. Our shit is on flowing so we need to step it up every day of the week. In this chat, I’m going to share a few insights into failing and really get down to the guts of it and decide whether a failure is a bad thing or a good thing, and how it can be used for positive reinforcement. In the hopes that at least somebody out there will be able to benefit from these words in some way shape or form.

What is failure?

Take a step back from an occasion you failed something and ask whether it was your fault. Now stop. It’s so easy to get caught up in that feeling because it’s like juggling a monkey and three banana’s, you’re starting at the produce department trying to find the milk section. Failing something is never a bad thing. The word fail is to not yet have successfully achieved something. It’s meaning is opportunistic, you can get there. Without letting this turn into a self-motivational talk, let’s be real about this and actually look into how failure contends with my belief systems.

When I took year 12, 6th form or 11th grade, Chemistry in school. There was nothing I liked about the class apart from the idea that I would be able to take engineering in University. It was a pretty cushy class but for some unknown reason, I found myself hugely anxious when it came to sitting assessments or indeed exams. The whole class was ruined because I wasn’t able to find the courage within myself to just simply study and reach a state where it was comfortable to sit in an environment and feel confident enough to know that it was possible to pass. But it wasn’t a reality for me. In hindsight, my perception of why it was such a massive challenge basically comes down to the shame of failing the exam. That analytically it was never the failing that caused the limbo but it was more the anticipation of the shame it would cause, failure was just the figment in front of it. Low and behold it wasn’t long thereafter until failure occurred, and it really struck me this anxiety that started out from nothing which developed into real and tangible results. It was such a massive learning curve for me.

So what does the fear of failing look like?

When I woke up this morning, went to my classes and came home to begin studying, I felt this overwhelming anxiety kind of like writer’s block and I just didn’t feel like working. I’m always usually in work mode but today was a bit bleaker than yesterday. That if I didn’t complete my work it might somehow lead to the failure of an entire class, that this failure would be met with unrelenting shame on my achievements and everything goes pear shaped relatively quickly. Shame is the ultimate fallacy that urges us to fear failure. it inhabits our lifestyle if we let it grow on us, like a mold on the roof of a bathroom. It won’t go away unless you are actively minimizing the fear of it.  The shame your parents might bare if you don’t pass a course, the shame your friends might have towards you if you didn’t manage the try. It’s the shame that is psychologically disabling some people from achieving success. Fearing failure is like being scared of boarding a bus to go somewhere and learn something.

Here’s a quick analogy.

The fear of failure is the anticipation of shit weather. Shame is the rain, wind, and lightning that weather brings. Rather than concerning yourself with the rain, learn how to be content within yourself and know that you have got what it takes to ride out the bad weather. Like a little bungalow I guess, some kind of ranch built out of hard work and nails. To be bold and strong under the thick and dense weather. So much so that you hardly even take notice to it. There was one time when I was flying out of Christchurch and we had this whole week of persistent rain. I remember feeling real crap about my whole day and that nothing was going to make things better, but as soon as we flew above all of the clouds into all of the blue fresh skies I couldn’t help but feel how stupid the whole situation was. Just to be able to really zoom out of all of the drama, all of the anxiety and feel way better about me. I guess, in essence, that is the imagery I’m trying to get across. That simple effortless perspective change is all that is needed to overcome the fear of stuffing up. Subsequently, the fear of shaming yourself in front of your friends and family. To be able to say, “Well actually there’s no shame in what I’m doing, I’m so much better than this.”

There’s usually more to the story.

It’s got something to do with our other friend, rejection. The fear to be shunted operates in tandem with shame. But that’s a talk had for another day… At the end of the day what matters is that you actively engage yourself in these sorts of perspective changes. That you recognize the significance of not taking ownership for the battles that go on in your head. it can be as simple as the weather pattern making you feel upset or antsy. Ultimately, it’s down to you to make your change, but in my experience, finding positivity in every opportunity even if that is failing at something is a huge learning curve.




That’s today’s little chat, it’s not been a great day but I’m super stoked to get this content out there because it’s my first relevant post about some symptoms I’ve been experiencing lately. I hope this in some way has helped someone, but if not I’ll try again harder tomorrow. And as always…

Thanks for checking in…